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Anal Chem. 2013 Mar 5;85(5):2623-9. doi: 10.1021/ac3019125. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

Fast surface acoustic wave-matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry of cell response from islets of Langerhans.

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Lund University, Center for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Pure and Applied Biochemistry, Box 124, 221 00 Lund, Sweden.


A desire for higher speed and performance in molecular profiling analysis at a reduced cost is driving a trend in miniaturization and simplification of procedures. Here we report the use of a surface acoustic wave (SAW) atomizer for fast sample handling in matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI MS) peptide and protein profiling of Islets of Langerhans, for future type 2 diabetes (T2D) studies. Here the SAW atomizer was used for ultrasound (acoustic) extraction of insulin and other peptide hormones released from freshly prepared islets, stimulated directly on a membrane. A high energy propagating SAW atomizes the membrane-bound liquid into approximately 2 μm diameter droplets, rich in cell-released molecules. Besides acting as a sample carrier, the membrane provides a purification step by entrapping cell clusters and other impurities within its fibers. A new SAW-based sample-matrix deposition method for MALDI MS was developed and characterized by a strong insulin signal, and a limit of detection (LOD) lower than 100 amol was achieved. Our results support previous work reporting the SAW atomizer as a fast and inexpensive tool for ultrasound, membrane-based sample extraction. When interfaced with MALDI MS, the SAW atomizer constitutes a valuable tool for rapid cell studies. Other biomedical applications of SAW-MALDI MS are currently being developed, aiming at fast profiling of biofluids. The membrane sampling is a simplistic and noninvasive collection method of limited volume biofluids such as the gingival fluid and the tearfilm.

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