J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 31 (12) 2553-2557 [2020-12-02; online 2020-07-21]
Mass spectrometry imaging using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization and desorption electrospray ionization has recently been employed to investigate the distribution of neurotransmitters, including biogenic amines and amino acids, directly in brain tissue sections. Ionization is facilitated by charge-tagging through pyrylium derivatization of primary amine containing neurotransmitters directly in tissue sections, significantly improving the limit of detection. Since the derivatization adds carbon and hydrogen to the target compounds, the resulting isotopic patterns of the products are not distinctive from those of the nonderivatized species. Here, we describe an approach for chemically modifying the reactive pyrylium ion to introduce the distinct isotopic signature of bromine in mass spectra of chemically derivatized substances in tissue sections. The method enables monoamine compounds to be distinguished directly in tissue sections, facilitating their identification.