Effect of MALDI Matrices on Lipid Analyses of Biological Tissues Using MALDI-2 Post-Ionization Mass Spectrometry

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI IMS) allows for highly multiplexed, untargeted detection of many hundreds of analytes from tissue. Recently, laser post-ionization (MALDI-2) has been developed for increased ion yield and sensitivity for lipid IMS. However, the dependence of MALDI-2 performance on the various lipid classes is largely unknown. To understand the effect of the applied matrix on MALDI-2 analysis of lipids, samples including an equimolar lipid standard mixture, various tissue homogenates, and intact rat kidney tissue sections were analyzed using the following matrices: α-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid (CHCA), 2’,5’-dihydroxyacetophenone (DHA), 2’,5’-dihydroxybenzoic acid (DHB), and norharmane (NOR). Lipid signal enhancement of protonated species using MALDI-2 technology varied based on the matrix used. Although signal improvements were observed for all matrices, the most dramatic effects using MALDI-2 were observed using NOR and DHB. For lipid standards analyzed by MALDI-2, NOR provided the broadest coverage, enabling the detection of all 13 protonated standards, including non-polar lipids, whereas DHB gave less coverage but gave the highest signal increase for those lipids recorded. With respect to tissue homogenates and rat kidney tissue, mass spectra were compared and showed that the number and intensity of neutral lipids tentatively identified with MALDI-2 using NOR increased significantly (e.g. 5-fold intensity increase for triacylglycerol). In the cases of DHB with MALDI-2, the number of protonated lipids identified from tissue homogenates doubled with 152 on average compared to 76 with MALDI alone. High spatial resolution imaging (~20 µm) of rat kidney tissue showed similar results using DHB with 125 lipids tentatively identified from MALDI-2 spectra versus just 72 using standard MALDI. From the four matrices tested, NOR provided the greatest increase in sensitivity for neutral lipids (triacylglycerol, diacylglycerol, monoacylglycerol, cholesterol ester) and DHB provided the highest overall number of lipids detected using MALDI-2 technology.