Advancements in ToF-SIMS imaging for life sciences

Front Chem. 2023 Aug 24:11:1237408. doi: 10.3389/fchem.2023.1237408. eCollection 2023.


In the last 2 decades, Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) has gained significant prominence as a powerful imaging technique in the field of life sciences. This comprehensive review provides an in-depth overview of recent advancements in ToF-SIMS instrument technology and its applications in metabolomics, lipidomics, and single-cell analysis. We highlight the use of ToF-SIMS imaging for studying lipid distribution, composition, and interactions in cells and tissues, and discuss its application in metabolomics, including the analysis of metabolic pathways. Furthermore, we review recent progress in single-cell analysis using ToF-SIMS, focusing on sample preparation techniques, in situ investigation for subcellular distribution of drugs, and interactions between drug molecules and biological targets. The high spatial resolution and potential for multimodal analysis of ToF-SIMS make it a promising tool for unraveling the complex molecular landscape of biological systems. We also discuss future prospects and potential advancements of ToF-SIMS in the research of life sciences, with the expectation of a significant impact in the field.

Keywords: ToF-SIMS; life science; lipidomics; metabolomics; single cell imaging.

Publication types

  • Review