Analyze the Spatial Distribution of Biomolecules by MALDI-MS


MALDI-MS tissue imaging capitalizes on state-of-the-art mass spectrometry approaches and equipment to produce visual images of various ionized species within tissue samples.

In this experimental workflow, a selected biological specimen (e.g., an organ, structure, or tissue from a plant or animal) is sectioned into very thin slices (~10-12 micrometre thick) and applied to a specialized glass plate. The sample is then coated with a matrix that helps to transfer energy from the MALDI laser to the sample to enable ionization of biomolecules from the sample. During MS analysis, the laser proceeds across the sample in a rasterized way, generating a mass spectra for each ‘pixel’ of the sample. Peaks in the spectra are identified by their distinctive mass-to-charge ratios (m/z). Specialized software is then used to translate the peak information from the mass spectra into an image of the relative distribution of each analyte across the tissue section.
Technological Advantages
MRM Proteomics employs innovative techniques that push the boundaries of what tissue imaging can accomplish in terms of quantity of imaged compounds and quality of the data. For instance, our newly-discovered matrix for lipid imaging enables the simultaneous imaging of >400 lipids from rat liver tissue – more than 2x more than other commonly-used matrices.
In addition, using our in-house developed patent-pending technology for improved matrix application (called Matrix Coating Assisted by an Electric Field or MCAEF), we can achieve 5x higher sensitivity and a further 2x increase in coverage of lipids, up to 599 lipids in rat brain.
Visualize the Spatial Distribution of >600 Proteins, Peptides, Drugs & Metabolites
Special MALDI matrix enables high coverage of lipids and produces fine crystals for high-resolution imaging
Matrix application by custom MCAEF apparatus (patent pending) enhances signal-to-noise for increased sensitivity
Approach capitalizes on super-high-resolution 12 Tesla FT-ICR-MS for compound discrimination
Maps of biomolecule distribution can be overlaid on histology results or compiled to generate a 3D model


Tissue imaging has increasing applications in cancer research. Application to prostate tissue samples shows differential expression of phospholipids and neutral lipids in cancer tissue. This technology is also extremely useful for mapping the distribution of a drug in a given tissue or performing functional studies to understand the roles of endogenous proteins or metabolites based on their abundance in different structures or tissue types.

Jul 29 2013

Wang X, Han J, Chou A, Yang J, Pan J, Borchers CH

Hydroxyflavones as a new family of matrices for MALDI tissue imaging.


Wang X, Han J, Pan J, Borchers CH.

Comprehensive imaging of porcine adrenal gland lipids by MALDI-FTMS using quercetin as a matrix.


Wang X, Han J, Yang J, Pan J, Borchers CH.

Matrix coating assisted by an electric field (MCAEF) for enhanced tissue imaging by MALDI-MS


Wang X, Han J, Hardie DB, Yang J, Borchers CH.

The use of matrix coating assisted by an electric field (MCAEF) to enhance mass spectrometric imaging of human prostate cancer biomarkers.

Dec 20 2016

Wang X, Han J, Hardie DB, Yang J, Pan J, Borchers CH.

Metabolomic profiling of prostate cancer by matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization-Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry imaging using Matrix Coating Assisted by an Electric Field (MCAEF). Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)

Dec 20 2016

BORCHERS CH, Han J, Wang X, inventors; Uvic Industry Partnerships Inc., assignee.

System and method for matrix-coating samples for mass spectrometry.

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