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Imaging Mass Spectrometry for Single-Cell Analysis

Chapter in book
Authors Nhu TN Phan
John S. Fletcher
Andrew G Ewing
Published in Reference Module in Chemistry, Molecular Sciences and Chemical Engineering
ISBN 978-0-12-409547-2
Publisher Elsevier
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Language en
Subject categories Analytical Chemistry


Single-cell imaging is a very important area in biological, medical, and pharmaceutical research, yet it is one of the most challenging fields for mass spectrometry. Imaging mass spectrometry (IMS), which is a powerful label-free analytical technique, has proved its capability to chemically visualize single cells with high sensitivity, chemical selectivity, and in certain cases subcellular spatial resolution. We present here an overview of the capabilities and current progress of IMS, particularly secondary ion mass spectrometry, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization, and desorption electrospray ionization for single-cell imaging. The principles and technical developments of each technique are introduced. Critical aspects regarding single-cell imaging are addressed, especially sensitivity, spatial resolution, and sample handling. Current achievements in this field of application are also presented for both 2-D imaging and 3-D imaging. Furthermore, we address the potential contribution of IMS single-cell ‘omics’ and discuss its future development.

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