The increased interest in lipidomics calls for improved yet simplified methods of lipid analysis. Over the past two decades, mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) has been established as a powerful technique for the analysis of molecular distribution of a variety of compounds across tissue surfaces. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) MSI is widely used to study the spatial distribution of common lipids. However, a thorough sample preparation and necessity of vacuum for efficient ionization might hamper its use for high-throughput lipid analysis. Desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) is a relatively young MS technique. In DESI, ionization of molecules occurs under ambient conditions, which alleviates sample preparation. Moreover, DESI does not require the application of an external matrix, making the detection of low mass species more feasible due to the lack of chemical matrix background. However, irrespective of the ionization method, the final information obtained during an MSI experiment is very complex and its analysis becomes challenging. It was shown that coupling MSI to ion mobility separation (IMS) simplifies imaging data interpretation. Here we employed DESI and MALDI MSI for a lipidomic analysis of the murine brain using the same IMS-enabled instrument. We report for the first time on the DESI IMS-MSI of multiply sialylated ganglioside species, as well as their acetylated versions, which we detected directly from the murine brain tissue. We show that poly-sialylated gangliosides can be imaged as multiply charged ions using DESI, while they are clearly separated from the rest of the lipid classes based on their charge state using ion mobility. This represents a major improvement in MSI of intact fragile lipid species. We additionally show that complementary lipid information is reached under particular conditions when DESI is compared to MALDI MSI.

Elsevier B.V.

Skraskova, K., Claude, E., Jones, E. A., Towers, M., Ellis, S., & Heeren, R. (2016). Enhanced capabilities for imaging gangliosides in murine brain with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization and desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry coupled to ion mobility separation. Methods, 104, 69–78. doi:10.1016/j.ymeth.2016.02.014