Acidic Methanol Treatment Facilitates Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Energy Metabolism

Wenyun Lu, Noel R. Park, Tara TeSlaa, Connor S.R. Jankowski, Laith Samarah, Melanie McReynolds, Xi Xing, Jessica Schembri, Morgan T. Woolf, Joshua D. Rabinowitz, Shawn M. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Detection of small molecule metabolites (SMM), particularly those involved in energy metabolism using MALDI-mass spectrometry imaging (MSI), is challenging due to factors including ion suppression from other analytes present (e.g., proteins and lipids). One potential solution to enhance SMM detection is to remove analytes that cause ion suppression from tissue sections before matrix deposition through solvent washes. Here, we systematically investigated solvent treatment conditions to improve SMM signal and preserve metabolite localization. Washing with acidic methanol significantly enhances the detection of phosphate-containing metabolites involved in energy metabolism. The improved detection is due to removing lipids and highly polar metabolites that cause ion suppression and denaturing proteins that release bound phosphate-containing metabolites. Stable isotope infusions of [13C6]nicotinamide coupled to MALDI-MSI (“Iso-imaging”) in the kidney reveal patterns that indicate blood vessels, medulla, outer stripe, and cortex. We also observed different ATP:ADP raw signals across mouse kidney regions, consistent with regional differences in glucose metabolism favoring either gluconeogenesis or glycolysis. In mouse muscle, Iso-imaging using [13C6]glucose shows high glycolytic flux from infused circulating glucose in type 1 and 2a fibers (soleus) and relatively lower glycolytic flux in type 2b fiber type (gastrocnemius). Thus, improved detection of phosphate-containing metabolites due to acidic methanol treatment combined with isotope tracing provides an improved way to probe energy metabolism with spatial resolution in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14879-14888
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 10 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry


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