Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) is a powerful tool that grants the ability to investigate a broad mass range of molecules from small molecules to large proteins by creating detailed distribution maps of selected compounds. Its usefulness in biomarker discovery towards clinical applications has obtained success by correlating the molecular expression of tissues acquired from MSI with well-established histology.
To date, MSI has demonstrated its versatility in clinical applications, such as
– biomarker diagnostics of different diseases,
– prognostics of disease severity and
– metabolic response to drug treatment, etc.
These studies have provided significant insight in clinical studies over the years and current technical advances are further facilitating the improvement of this field. Although the underlying concept is simple, factors such as choice of ionization method, sample preparation, instrumentation and data analysis must be taken into account for successful applications of MSI.
Herein, the author briefly reviewed these key elements yet focused on the clinical applications of MSI that cannot be addressed by other means and conclude that the ever-growing applications with continuous development of this powerful analytical tool will lead to a better understanding of the biology of diseases and improvements in clinical diagnostics.