MALDI imaging mass spectrometry: molecular snapshots of biochemical systems

Nat Methods. 2007 Oct;4(10):828-33. doi: 10.1038/nmeth1094.


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) is emerging as a powerful tool for investigating the distribution of molecules within biological systems through the direct analysis of thin tissue sections. Unique among imaging methods, MALDI-IMS can determine the distribution of hundreds of unknown compounds in a single measurement. We discuss the current state of the art of MALDI-IMS along with some recent applications and technological developments that illustrate not only its current capabilities but also the future potential of the technique to provide a better understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms of biological processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Developmental Biology / methods
  • Pathology / methods
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / metabolism
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Proteomics / trends
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / trends


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Phospholipids