Publication Details

Vos, D. R. N., Ellis, S. R., Balluff, B. & Heeren, R. M. A. (2020). Experimental and Data Analysis Considerations for Three-Dimensional Mass Spectrometry Imaging in Biomedical Research. Molecular Imaging and Biology,


Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) enables the visualization of molecular distributions on complex surfaces. It has been extensively used in the field of biomedical research to investigate healthy and diseased tissues. Most of the MSI studies are conducted in a 2D fashion where only a single slice of the full sample volume is investigated. However, biological processes occur within a tissue volume and would ideally be investigated as a whole to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the spatial and molecular complexity of biological samples such as tissues and cells. Mass spectrometry imaging has therefore been expanded to the 3D realm whereby molecular distributions within a 3D sample can be visualized. The benefit of investigating volumetric data has led to a quick rise in the application of single-sample 3D-MSI investigations. Several experimental and data analysis aspects need to be considered to perform successful 3D-MSI studies. In this review, we discuss these aspects as well as ongoing developments that enable 3D-MSI to be routinely applied to multi-sample studies.



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