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Using the Chemical Noise Background in MALDI Mass Spectrometry Imaging for Mass Alignment and Calibration

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journal contribution
posted on 10.12.2019 by Tobias Boskamp, Delf Lachmund, Rita Casadonte, Lena Hauberg-Lotte, Jan Hendrik Kobarg, Jörg Kriegsmann, Peter Maass
Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI MSI) is an established tool for the investigation of formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue samples and shows a high potential for applications in clinical research and histopathological diagnosis. The applicability and accuracy of this method, however, heavily depends on the quality of the acquired data, and in particular mass misalignment in axial time-of-flight (TOF) MSI continues to be a serious issue. We present a mass alignment and recalibration method that is specifically designed to operate on MALDI peptide imaging data. The proposed method exploits statistical properties of the characteristic chemical noise background observed in peptide imaging experiments. By comparing these properties to a theoretical peptide mass model, the effective mass shift of each spectrum is estimated and corrected. The method was evaluated on a cohort of 31 FFPE tissue samples, pursuing a statistical validation approach to estimate both the reduction of relative misalignment, as well as the increase in absolute mass accuracy. Our results suggest that a relative mass precision of approximately 5 ppm and an absolute accuracy of approximately 20 ppm are achievable using our method.