University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have made a microscopic snapshot of the early renal lipid changes in acute kidney injury, using the laser-scanning method called MALDI, otherwise known as“matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization” for tissue imaging to localize the changes.
Acute kidney injury is a leading cause of hospital illness or death in critically ill patients, but Kabarowski, a professor of microbiology, claims that the imaging can be utilized for any tissue damage. The imaging has the power to reveal spatial distribution of complex biochemical processes in an organism, showing where changes in proteins or small molecules take place. It does not require prior knowledge of the target compounds.
The researchers then used MALDI tissue imaging to find where the most abundant of the ether-linked phospholipids was concentrated. In MALDI, a powerful laser scans the thin tissue section after application of a matrix material by vacuum sublimation, knocking the lipid ions off from the surface of the tissue. The MALDI time-of-flight mass spectrometry and ion fragmentation then allowed identification of the proximal tubules of the kidney as the place where the ether-linked phospholipids were concentrated. The proximal tubules are known to be most prone to developing ischemia-related injury.