Anal. Chem. 92 (21) 14676-14684 [2020-11-03; online 2020-10-21]
Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI) is an established tool in drug development, which enables visualization of drugs and drug metabolites at spatial localizations in tissue sections from different organs. However, robust and accurate quantitation by MALDI-MSI still remains a challenge. We present a quantitative MALDI-MSI method using two instruments with different types of mass analyzers, i.e., time-of-flight (TOF) and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FTICR) MS, for mapping levels of the in vivo-administered drug citalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, in mouse brain tissue sections. Six different methods for applying calibration standards and an internal standard were evaluated. The optimized method was validated according to authorities' guidelines and requirements, including selectivity, accuracy, precision, recovery, calibration curve, sensitivity, reproducibility, and stability parameters. We showed that applying a dilution series of calibration standards followed by a homogeneously applied, stable, isotopically labeled standard for normalization and a matrix on top of the tissue section yielded similar results to those from the reference method using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The validation results were within specified limits and the brain concentrations for TOF MS (51.1 ± 4.4 pmol/mg) and FTICR MS (56.9 ± 6.0 pmol/mg) did not significantly differ from those of the cross-validated LC-MS/MS method (55.0 ± 4.9 pmol/mg). The effect of in vivo citalopram administration on the serotonin neurotransmitter system was studied in the hippocampus, a brain region that is the principal target of the serotonergic afferents along with the limbic system, and it was shown that serotonin was significantly increased (2-fold), but its metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid was not. This study makes a substantial step toward establishing MALDI-MSI as a fully quantitative validated method.