Skip to main content

Mass Spectrometry Imaging

Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) is a technique used for mapping the spatial distributions of molecular species across a sample. Thousands of analytes including metabolites, lipids, peptides, proteins and glycans can be visualized and spatially resolved without the need for labeling. Thus, MSI is a versatile technology that is used for a wide range of applications including clinical diagnostics and pathology, food science, forensics, natural products, pharmaceutical R&D, plant sciences, spatial lipidomics and metabolomics and whole-body analyses. Molecular information obtained from MSI can be overlaid with other imaging modalities such as histology to correlate molecular profiles to tissue substructures or other features. In METRIC, MSI is performed using infrared matrix-assisted laser desorption electrospray ionization (IR-MALDESI) and a high resolving power mass spectrometer for accurate mass measurements. MSiReader software, developed at NC State as a free, open-source, vendor-neutral platform built using Matlab is the foundation for our data analysis pipeline. 

An example of the types of data output that are possible with mass spectrometry imaging. This figure shows ion heatmaps of deprotonated fatty acyls in adult male zebrafish. Optical images of the MSI tissue section coated with ice and serial section stained by H & E are shown for histological context.

From Whitney L. Stutts, Megan M. Knuth, Måns Ekelöf, Debabrata Mahapatra, Seth W. Kullman, and David C. Muddiman, Methods for Cryosectioning and Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Whole-Body Zebrafish, Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2020 31 (4), 768-772 DOI: 10.1021/jasms.9b00097
  • High Resolution Accurate Mass (HRAM) Measurements
  • HRAM MS2 for Enhanced Confidence in Compound Annotations from Imaging Data
  • Sample Types Include: Soft Tissues, Bones, Plants, Textiles and Pharmaceuticals
  • Data Analysis and Statistical Tools: MSiReader, METASPACE and MetaboAnalyst
  • Spatial Lipidomics and Metabolomics
  • Detection and Relative Quantitation for Targeted Analytes of Interest
  • Drug Mapping in Biological Tissues and Pharmaceuticals
  • Direct Analysis of Textiles Including Trace Fibers
  • Whole-body Imaging: Zebrafish and Neonatal Mice