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Keywords:

  • bioimaging of metals;
  • laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry;
  • metal distribution;
  • metallomics;
  • neurodegenerative diseases

Abstract

The distribution analysis of (essential, beneficial, or toxic) metals (e.g., Cu, Fe, Zn, Pb, and others), metalloids, and non-metals in biological tissues is of key interest in life science. Over the past few years, the development and application of several imaging mass spectrometric techniques has been rapidly growing in biology and medicine. Especially, in brain research metalloproteins are in the focus of targeted therapy approaches of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, or stroke, or tumor growth. Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) using double-focusing sector field (LA-ICP-SFMS) or quadrupole-based mass spectrometers (LA-ICP-QMS) has been successfully applied as a powerful imaging (mapping) technique to produce quantitative images of detailed regionally specific element distributions in thin tissue sections of human or rodent brain. Imaging LA-ICP-QMS was also applied to investigate metal distributions in plant and animal sections to study, for example, the uptake and transport of nutrient and toxic elements or environmental contamination. The combination of imaging LA-ICP-MS of metals with proteomic studies using biomolecular mass spectrometry identifies metal-containing proteins and also phosphoproteins. Metal-containing proteins were imaged in a two-dimensional gel after electrophoretic separation of proteins (SDS or Blue Native PAGE). Recent progress in LA-ICP-MS imaging as a stand-alone technique and in combination with MALDI/ESI-MS for selected life science applications is summarized. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., Mass Spec Rev 29:156–175, 2010