Preparing ductal epithelial organoids for high-spatial-resolution molecular profiling using mass spectrometry imaging

Nat Protoc. 2022 Apr;17(4):962-979. doi: 10.1038/s41596-021-00661-8. Epub 2022 Feb 18.


Organoid culture systems are self-renewing, three-dimensional (3D) models derived from pluripotent stem cells, adult derived stem cells or cancer cells that recapitulate key molecular and structural characteristics of their tissue of origin. They generally form into hollow structures with apical-basolateral polarization. Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) is a powerful analytical method for detecting a wide variety of molecules in a single experiment while retaining their spatiotemporal distribution. Here we describe a protocol for preparing organoids for MSI that (1) preserves the 3D morphological structure of hollow organoids, (2) retains the spatiotemporal distribution of a vast array of molecules (3) and enables accurate molecular identification based on tandem mass spectrometry. The protocol specifically focuses on the collection and embedding of the organoids in gelatin, and gives recommendations for MSI-specific sample preparation, data acquisition and molecular identification by tandem mass spectrometry. This method is applicable to a wide range of organoids from different origins, and takes 1 d from organoid collection to MSI data acquisition.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Organoids*
  • Stem Cells*