Quantitative mass spectrometry imaging of small-molecule neurotransmitters in rat brain tissue sections using nanospray desorption electrospray ionization†
Small molecule neurotransmitters are essential for the function of the nervous system, and neurotransmitter imbalances are often connected to neurological disorders. The ability to quantify such imbalances is important to provide insights into the biochemical mechanisms underlying the disorder. This proof-of-principle study presents online quantification of small molecule neurotransmitters, specifically acetylcholine, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate, in rat brain tissue sections using nanospray desorption electrospray ionization (nano-DESI) mass spectrometry imaging. By incorporating deuterated internal standards in the nano-DESI solvent we show identification, accurate mapping, and quantification of these small neurotransmitters in rat brain tissue without introducing any additional sample preparation steps. We find that GABA is about twice as abundant in the medial septum-diagonal band complex (MSDB) as in the cortex, while glutamate is about twice as abundant in the cortex as compared to the MSDB. The study shows that nano-DESI is well suited for imaging of small molecule neurotransmitters in health and disease.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Emerging Investigators