A simple metal staining procedure for identification and visualization of single cells by LA-ICP-MS
High lateral resolution of metal detection in single cells by use of laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) demands powerful staining methods. In this work different staining procedures for the single cell analysis with LA-ICP-MS were optimized. An iridium intercalator was utilized to stain the cell nuclei whereas the whole cell was stained by the use of maleimido-mono-amide-DOTA (mDOTA) complexing lanthanide(III) ions. The content of the artificially introduced metals per cell was quantified using a matrix matched calibration approach based on cellulose membranes onto which standards were spotted by a microarray spotter. Absolute metal stain amounts in the range of 2.34 to 9.81 femtomole per cell were determined. The metal staining procedures allow direct identification and visualization of single cells and their cell compartments by element microscopy without the use of bright field images of the sample.