Decoding the Mind: Revealing Brain Secrets Through Omics-Scale Mass Spectrometry and the Multiclass Standard Revolution

Posted on December 13, 2023

MSI Blog


The human brain, a complex and intricate organ, holds countless secrets waiting to be unraveled. In the pursuit of understanding the molecular makeup of this enigmatic organ, scientists have been pushing the boundaries of technology. One groundbreaking advancement in this realm is the use of omics-scale quantitative mass spectrometry imaging of lipids, a method that allows researchers to delve deep into the lipid composition of brain tissue from a spatial perspective. In this blog post, we explore a recent article that discusses a significant stride in this field— the incorporation of a multiclass internal standard mixture.

The Quest for Precision:

Lipids, the building blocks of cell membranes, play a pivotal role in various physiological processes within the brain. Understanding the lipidomic landscape is crucial for gaining insights into neurological disorders, synaptic function, and overall brain health. Traditional methods of lipid analysis often fell short in providing the precision required for comprehensive studies; traditional analyses also involve homogenization of the tissue, which may mask variation across different regions of the brain.

Enter Omics-Scale Quantitative Mass Spectrometry Imaging:

Omics-scale quantitative mass spectrometry imaging is a powerful technique that enables researchers to map the spatial distribution of lipids in brain tissue with incredible detail. This methodology allows for the simultaneous identification and quantification of a wide range of lipids, providing a holistic view of the lipidome.

The Multiclass Internal Standard Mixture:

The recent article explores the integration of a multiclass internal standard mixture, a game-changer in the world of mass spectrometry imaging. This mixture serves as a reference point, enhancing the accuracy and reliability of lipid quantification. With this addition, researchers can now not only identify the presence of lipids but also precisely measure their concentrations in different regions of the brain.

Why It Matters:

Understanding the lipidomic profile of the brain is pivotal for advancements in neurology and neuroscience. This technology opens doors for a deeper comprehension of diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other neurodegenerative disorders. Additionally, it offers insights into the impact of lifestyle and external factors on brain lipid composition.

Challenges and Future Prospects:

While the integration of a multiclass internal standard mixture marks a significant leap forward, challenges persist. Researchers continue to refine techniques and methodologies, aiming for even greater precision and resolution. As resolution increases, so does data file size; one of the major challenges for this field is the how to store and handle such vast amounts of data. The ongoing collaboration between mass spectrometry experts, bioinformaticians, and neuroscientists to address these obstacles promises a future where we can unravel the intricate tapestry of the brain's lipidomic landscape.


As we navigate the intricate terrain of the human brain, advancements in technology become beacons of hope. The omics-scale quantitative mass spectrometry imaging, coupled with the innovation of a multiclass internal standard mixture, paves the way for unprecedented discoveries in neuroscience. The quest to unlock the mysteries of the brain continues, and with each breakthrough, we move closer to a deeper understanding of what makes us who we are.

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For the full article click here: Toward Omics-Scale Quantitative Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Lipids in Brain Tissue Using a Multiclass Internal Standard Mixture. Michiel Vandenbosch, Shadrack M. Mutuku, Maria José Q. Mantas, Nathan H. Patterson, Tucker Hallmark, Marc Claesen, Ron M. A. Heeren, Nathan G. Hatcher, Nico Verbeeck, Kim Ekroos, and Shane R. Ellis. Analytical Chemistry Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.3c02724