Recent developments in MALDI have enabled direct detection of lipids as intact molecular species present within cellular membranes. Abundant lipid-related ions are produced from the direct analysis of thin tissue slices when sequential spectra are acquired across a tissue surface that has been coated with a MALDI matrix. The lipid-derived ions can often be distinguished from other biomolecules because of the significant mass defect that these ions present due to the large number of covalently bound hydrogen atoms in hydrophobic molecules such as lipids. Collisional activation of the molecular ions can be used to determine the lipid family and often structurally define the molecular species. Specific examples in the detection of phospholipids, sphingolipids, and glycerolipids are presented with images of mouse brain and kidney tissue slices. Regional distribution of many different lipid molecular species and Na+ and K+ attachment ions often define anatomical regions within the tissues.
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