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Lipid Isobar and Isomer Imaging Using Nanospray Desorption Electrospray Ionization Combined with Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry

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posted on 2024-02-07, 04:43 authored by Miranda R. Weigand, Daisy M. Unsihuay Vila, Manxi Yang, Hang Hu, Emerson Hernly, Matthew Muhoberac, Shane Tichy, Julia Laskin
Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) is widely used for examining the spatial distributions of molecules in biological samples. Conventional MSI approaches, in which molecules extracted from the sample are distinguished based on their mass-to-charge ratio, cannot distinguish between isomeric species and some closely spaced isobars. To facilitate isobar separation, MSI is typically performed using high-resolution mass spectrometers. Nevertheless, the complexity of the mixture of biomolecules observed in each pixel of the image presents a challenge, even for modern mass spectrometers with the highest resolving power. Herein, we implement nanospray desorption electrospray ionization (nano-DESI) MSI on a triple quadrupole (QqQ) mass spectrometer for the spatial mapping of isobaric and isomeric species in biological tissues. We use multiple reaction monitoring acquisition mode (MRM) with unit mass resolution to demonstrate the performance of this new platform by imaging lipids in mouse brain and rat kidney tissues. We demonstrate that imaging in MRM mode may be used to distinguish between isobaric phospholipids requiring a mass resolving power of 3,800,000. Additionally, we have been able to image eicosanoid isomers, a largely unexplored class of signaling molecules present in tissues at low concentrations, in rat kidney tissue. This new capability substantially enhances the specificity and selectivity of MSI, enabling spatial localization of species that remain unresolved in conventional MSI experiments.

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