Targeted Drug and Metabolite Imaging: Desorption Electrospray Ionization Combined with Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry

Lieke Lamont, Gert B Eijkel, Emrys A Jones, Bryn Flinders, Shane R Ellis, Tiffany Porta Siegel, Ron M A Heeren*, Rob J Vreeken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) has proven to be a valuable tool for drug and metabolite imaging in pharmaceutical toxicology studies and can reveal, for example, accumulation of drug candidates in early drug development. However, the lack of sample cleanup and chromatographic separation can hamper the analysis due to isobaric interferences. Multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) uses unique precursor ion-product ion transitions to add specificity which leads to higher selectivity. Here, we present a targeted imaging platform where desorption electrospray ionization is combined with a triple quadrupole (QqQ) system to perform MRM imaging. The platform was applied to visualize (i) lipids in mouse brain tissue sections and (ii) a drug candidate and metabolite in canine liver tissue. All QqQ modes were investigated to show the increased detection time provided by MRM as well as the possibility to perform dual polarity imaging. This is very beneficial for lipid imaging because some phospholipid classes ionize in opposite polarity (e.g., phosphatidylcholine/sphingomyelin in positive ion mode and phosphatidylserine/phosphatidylethanolamine in negative ion mode). Drug and metabolite images were obtained to show its strength in drug distribution studies. Multiple MRM transitions were used to confirm the local presence and selective detection of pharmaceutical compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13229-13235
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2018

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