Direct targeted quantitative molecular imaging of neurotransmitters in brain tissue sections

Neuron. 2014 Nov 19;84(4):697-707. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.10.011. Epub 2014 Nov 6.


Current neuroimaging techniques have very limited abilities to directly identify and quantify neurotransmitters from brain sections. We have developed a molecular-specific approach for the simultaneous imaging and quantitation of multiple neurotransmitters, precursors, and metabolites, such as tyrosine, tryptamine, tyramine, phenethylamine, dopamine, 3-methoxytyramine, serotonin, GABA, glutamate, acetylcholine, and L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, in histological tissue sections at high spatial resolutions. The method is employed to directly measure changes in the absolute and relative levels of neurotransmitters in specific brain structures in animal disease models and in response to drug treatments, demonstrating the power of mass spectrometry imaging in neuroscience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents