In this work, we combined the use of two MALDI matrices (quercetin and 9-aminoacridine), a recently developed new matrix coating technique - matrix coating assisted by an electric field (MCAEF), and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization - Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (MALDI-FTICRMS) to detect and image endogenous compounds in the cancerous and non-cancerous regions of three human prostate cancer (stage II) tissue specimens. After three rounds of imaging data acquisitions (i.e., quercetin for positive and negative ion detection and 9-aminoacridine for negative ion detection), and metabolite identification, a total of 1091 metabolites including 1032 lipids and 59 other metabolites were routinely detected and successfully localized. Of these compounds, 250 and 217 were only detected in either the cancerous or the non-cancerous regions respectively, although we cannot rule out the presence of these metabolites at concentrations below the detection limit. In addition, 152 of the other 624 metabolites showed differential distributions (p<0.05, t-test) between the two regions of the tissues. Further studies on a larger number of clinical specimens will need to be carried out to confirm this large number of apparently cancer-related metabolites. The successful determination of the spatial locations and abundances of these endogenous biomolecules indicated significant metabolism abnormalities - e.g., increased energy charge and under-expression of neutral acyl glycerides, in the prostate cancer samples. To our knowledge, this work has resulted in MALDI-MS imaging of the largest group of metabolites in prostate cancer thus far and demonstrated the importance of using complementary matrices for comprehensive metabolomic imaging by MALDI-MS. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: MALDI Imaging, edited by Dr. Corinna Henkel and Prof. Peter Hoffmann.
Keywords: Biomarker; Lipid; MCAEF; Primary metabolite; Prostate cancer; Tissue imaging.
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