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Histol Histopathol. 2014 Nov;29(11):1365-76. doi: 10.14670/HH-29.1365. Epub 2014 May 19.

MALDI mass spectrometry imaging of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues in clinical research.

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Institute of Pathology, Research Unit Analytical Pathology, Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen, National Research Centre for Environment and Health, Neuherberg, Germany.


The molecular investigation of archived formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples provides the chance to obtain molecular patterns as indicatives for treatment and clinical end points. MALDI mass spectrometry imaging is capable of localizing molecules like proteins and peptides in tissue sections and became a favorite platform for the targeted and non-targeted approaches, especially in clinical investigations for biomarker research. In FFPE tissues the recovery of proteomic information is constrained by fixation-induced cross-links of proteins. The promising new insights obtained from FFPE in combination with the comprehensive patients' data caused much progress in the optimization of MS imaging protocols to investigate FFPE samples. This review presents the past and current research in MALDI MS imaging of FFPE tissues, demonstrating the improvement of analyses, their actual limitations, but also the promising future perspectives for histopathological and tissue-based research.

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