March 15, 2011 – Pierre Chaurand

Pierre Chaurand, Ph.D.

Département de chimie, université de Montréal

MALDI Imaging Mass Spectrometry: Principle, State of the Art and Future Challenges

MALDI-based imaging mass spectrometry is a new technology that allows to map different biocompounds and xenobiotics directly from thin tissue sections. Numerous classes of biomolecules including metabolites, phospholipids, peptides and proteins can be detected and mapped in direct correlation with the underlying histology. Molecular profiles and images depend on the types of tissues or cells studied and certain signals can be directly correlated with the health status of the tissue specimen. Indeed, the technology is sufficiently sensitive to detect variations in the molecular composition induced by the presence of disease or by drug uptake. Numerous technical advances such as automated matrix deposition and the development of in situ chemistries now allow us to study the proteomic content of fresh frozen and formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue specimens.

After an introduction of the technology and a description of current progresses the different fields of research of imaging mass spectrometry will be presented. In particular its enormous potential in clinical settings in complement to traditional histopathology and its important role in the study of drug distribution and effects in various biological tissues will be described. Finally, a critical outlook will be made towards the developments to be made for the technology to become a mainstream analytical tool.