Identification and High-Resolution Imaging of alpha-Tocopherol from Human Cells to Whole Animals by TOF-SIMS Tandem Mass Spectrometry

Anne L. Bruinen, Gregory L. Fisher, Rachelle Balez, Astrid M. van der Sar, Lezanne Ooi, Ron M. A. Heeren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Web of Science)


A unique method for identification of biomolecular components in different biological specimens, while preserving the capability for high speed 2D and 3D molecular imaging, is employed to investigate cellular response to oxidative stress. The employed method enables observing the distribution of the antioxidant alpha-tocopherol and other molecules in cellular structures via time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS (MS1)) imaging in parallel with tandem mass spectrometry (MS2) imaging, collected simultaneously. The described method is employed to examine a network formed by neuronal cells differentiated from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), a model for investigating human neurons in vitro. The antioxidant alpha-tocopherol is identified in situ within different cellular layers utilizing a 3D TOF-SIMS tandem MS imaging analysis. As oxidative stress also plays an important role in mediating inflammation, the study was expanded to whole body tissue sections of M. marinum-infected zebrafish, a model organism for tuberculosis. The TOF-SIMS tandem MS imaging results reveal an increased presence of alpha-tocopherol in response to the pathogen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1571-1581
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Tandem MS
  • Mass spectrometry imaging
  • alpha-tocopherol
  • Vitamin E

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