Department of Biosciences, Rice University, Houston
Imaging Mass Spectrometry: A New Tool to Assess Molecular Underpinnings of Neurodegeneration
Neurodegenerative diseases are prevalent and devastating. While extensive research has been done over the past decades, we are still far from comprehensively understanding what causes neurodegeneration and how we can prevent it or reverse it. Recently, systems biology approaches have led to a holistic examination of the interactions between genome, metabolome, and the environment, in order to shed new light on neurodegenerative pathogenesis. One of the new technologies that has emerged to facilitate such studies is imaging mass spectrometry (IMS). With its ability to map a wide range of small molecules with high spatial resolution, coupled with the ability to quantify them at once, without the need for a priori labeling, IMS has taken center stage in current research efforts in elucidating the role of the metabolome in driving neurodegeneration. IMS has already proven to be effective in investigating the lipidome and the proteome of various neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Here, we review the IMS platform for capturing biological snapshots of the metabolic state to shed more light on the molecular mechanisms of the diseased brain.
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