Atheroma-Specific Lipids in ldlr(-/-) and apoe(-/-) Mice Using 2D and 3D Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometry Imaging

Jianhua Cao, Pieter Goossens, Marta Martin-Lorenzo, Frederic Dewez, Britt S. R. Claes, Erik A. L. Biessen, Ron M. A. Heeren, Benjamin Balluff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Web of Science)


Atherosclerosis is the major contributor to cardiovascular diseases. It is a spatially and temporally complex inflammatory disease, in which intravascular accumulation of a plethora of lipids is considered to play a crucial role. To date, both the composition and local distribution of the involved lipids have not been thoroughly mapped yet. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) enables analyzing and visualizing hundreds of lipid molecules within the plaque while preserving each lipid's specific location. In this study, we aim to identify and verify aortic plaque-specific lipids with high-spatial-resolution 2D and 3D MALDI-MSI common to high-fat-diet-fed low-density lipoprotein receptor deficient (ldlr(-/-)) mice and chow-fed apolipoprotein E deficient (apoe(-/-)) mice, the two most widely used animal models for atherosclerosis. A total of 11 lipids were found to be significantly and specifically colocalized to the plaques in both mouse models. These were identified and belong to one sphingomyelin (SM), three lysophosphatidic acids (LPA), four lysophosphatidylcholines (LPC), two lysophosphatidylethanolamines (LPE), and one lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI). While these lysolipids and SM 34:0;2 were characteristic of the atherosclerotic aorta plaque itself, LPI 18:0 was mainly localized in the necrotic core of the plaque.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1825-1832
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2020


  • atherosclerosis
  • mass spectrometry imaging
  • atheroma
  • plaque
  • LDLR
  • APOE
  • MS

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