MALDI imaging mass spectrometry for direct tissue analysis: a new frontier for molecular histology

Histochem Cell Biol. 2008 Sep;130(3):421-34. doi: 10.1007/s00418-008-0469-9. Epub 2008 Jul 11.


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) is a powerful tool for investigating the distribution of proteins and small molecules within biological systems through the in situ analysis of tissue sections. MALDI-IMS can determine the distribution of hundreds of unknown compounds in a single measurement and enables the acquisition of cellular expression profiles while maintaining the cellular and molecular integrity. In recent years, a great many advances in the practice of imaging mass spectrometry have taken place, making the technique more sensitive, robust, and ultimately useful. In this review, we focus on the current state of the art of MALDI-IMS, describe basic technological developments for MALDI-IMS of animal and human tissues, and discuss some recent applications in basic research and in clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Developmental Biology
  • Disease
  • Histology
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / instrumentation*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*


  • Proteins