Peptide and protein imaging mass spectrometry in cancer research

Liam A McDonnell*, Garry L Corthals, Stefan M Willems, Alexandra van Remoortere, René J M van Zeijl, André M Deelder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


MALDI mass spectrometry is able to acquire protein profiles directly from tissue that can describe the levels of hundreds of distinct proteins. MALDI imaging MS can simultaneously reveal how each of these proteins varies in heterogeneous tissues. Numerous studies have now demonstrated how MALDI imaging MS can generate different protein profiles from the different cell types in a tumor, which can act as biomarker profiles or enable specific candidate protein biomarkers to be identified. MALDI imaging MS can be directly applied to patient samples where its utility is to accomplish untargeted multiplex analysis of the tissue's protein content, enabling the different regions of the tissue to be differentiated on the basis of previously unknown protein profiles/biomarkers. The technique continues to rapidly develop and is now approaching the cusp whereby its potential to provide new diagnostic/prognostic tools for cancer patients can be routinely investigated. Here the latest methodological developments are summarized and its application to a range of tumors is reported in detail. The prospects of MALDI imaging MS are then described from the perspectives of modern pathological practice and MS-based proteomics, to ensure the outlook addresses real clinical needs and reflects the real capabilities of MS-based proteomics of complex tissue samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1921-1944
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of proteomics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 10-Sep-2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers, Tumor/analysis
  • Biopsy
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Brain Neoplasms/chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms/chemistry
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms/chemistry
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms/chemistry
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Proteins/analysis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms/chemistry
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms/chemistry
  • Prostatic Neoplasms/chemistry
  • Proteomics/methods
  • Specimen Handling
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization/methods

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