Liquid chromatography-matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometric imaging with sprayed matrix for improved sensitivity, reproducibility and quantitation
Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometric imaging (MSI) has been employed as a detection method for both capillary electrophoresis (CE)-MALDI and liquid chromatography (LC)-MALDI analyses. Based on our previous studies, here we report a new interface to couple LC with MSI by employing an automated matrix sprayer. The LC trace is directly collected on a ground stainless steel MALDI plate and dried. The matrix is sprayed on the MALDI plate using a programmable matrix sprayer. With the highly uniform matrix layers produced from the sprayer, the MS image signal quality is significantly improved with enhanced signal-to-noise ratios for analyte peaks. With the programmable matrix application and imaging MS data acquisition, the new LC-MSI platform exhibits highly stable and reproducible performance. A total of 87 bovine serum albumin (BSA) tryptic peptides and 295 putative neuropeptides from blue crab pericardial organs have been observed with LC-MSI analysis, exhibiting better performance in terms of peptide coverage than regular LC-MALDI with discrete spot collection and our previously reported LC-MSI interface with the matrix being delivered by a capillary. In addition to relative quantitation with isotopic labeling as we have previously demonstrated, we performed the first absolute quantitation using the new LC-MSI platform and obtained accurate quantitation results for neuropeptides, indicating great potential for quantitative analysis of complex samples.