Identification of Phosphatidylcholine Isomers in Imaging Mass Spectrometry Using Gas-Phase Charge Inversion Ion/Ion Reactions

03 June 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Gas-phase ion/ion reactions have been enabled on a commercial dual source, hybrid QhFT-ICR mass spectrometer for use during imaging mass spectrometry experiments. These reactions allow for the transformation of the ion type most readily generated from the tissue surface to an ion type that gives improved chemical structural information upon tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) without manipulating the tissue sample. This process is demonstrated via the charge inversion reaction of phosphatidylcholine (PC) lipid cations generated from rat brain tissue via matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) with 1,4-phenylenedipropionic acid (PDPA) reagent dianions generated via electrospray ionization (ESI). Collision induced dissociation (CID) of the resulting demethylated PC product anions allows for the determination of the lipid fatty acyl tail identities and positions, which is not possible via CID of the precursor lipid cations. The abundance of lipid isomers revealed by this workflow is found to vary significantly in different regions of the brain. As each isoform may have a unique cellular function, these results underscore the importance of accurately separating and identifying the many isobaric and isomeric lipids and metabolites that can complicate image interpretation and spectral analysis.


mass spectrometry instrumentation
Gas phase reactions
Ion/ion reactions
phosphatidylcholine groups
imaging Mass Spectrometry

Supplementary materials

Specker Supplemental Information Manuscript v2 BMP


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