2015 Volume 4 Issue 1 Pages A0040
In vivo concentrations of cellular signaling mediators such as inflammatory mediators are normally maintained at very low levels due to their strong ability to induce a biological response. The production, diffusion, and decomposition of such mediators are spatio-temporally regulated. Therefore, in order to understand biochemical basis of disease progression and develop new therapeutic strategies, it is important to understand the spatiotemporal dynamics of the signaling mediators in vivo, during the progression of disorders, e.g., chronic inflammatory diseases; however, the lack of effective imaging technology has made it difficult to determine their localizations in vivo. Such characterization requires technical breakthroughs, including molecular imaging methods that are sensitive enough to detect low levels of metabolites in the heterogeneous tissue regions in diseased organs. We and other groups have attempted to fill this technical gap by developing highly sensitive imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) technologies. To date, we have established two key techniques toward this goal, including (i) a sample preparation procedure that has eliminated the problem of the postmortem degradation of labile metabolites, and (ii) on-tissue derivatization of metabolites, which can enhance analyte ionization efficiency. Here, we review recent progress in the development of these technologies as well as how the highly sensitive IMS technique has contributed to increasing understanding of the biochemical basis of disease mechanisms, discovery of new diagnostic markers, and development of new therapies.