MALDI MS imaging as a tool for biomarker discovery: Methodological challenges in a clinical setting


  • Colour Online: See the article online to view Fig. 2 in colour.

Correspondence: Professor Lutgarde Arckens, Laboratory of Neuroplasticity and Neuroproteomics, KU Leuven, Naamsestraat 59, box 2467, 3000 Leuven, Belgium


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MALDI MS imaging (MSI) is an analytical tool capable of providing spatial distribution and relative abundance of biomolecules directly in tissue. After 15 years of intense efforts to improve the acquisition and quality of molecular images, MSI has matured into an asset of the proteomic toolbox. The power of MSI lies in the ability to differentiate tissue regions that are not histologically distinct but are characterized by different MS profiles. Recently, MSI has been gaining momentum in biomedical research and has found applications in disease diagnosis and prognosis, biomarker discovery, and drug therapy. Although the technology holds great promise, MSI is still faced with a set of methodological challenges presented by the clinical setting. There is a growing awareness regarding this topic and efforts are being taken to develop clear and practical standards to overcome these challenges. This review presents an overview of MALDI MSI as a biomarker discovery tool and recent methodological progress in the field.