Peptidergic dense-core vesicles are involved in packaging and releasing neuropeptides and peptide hormones—critical processes underlying brain, endocrine and exocrine function. Yet, the heterogeneity within these organelles, even for morphologically defined vesicle types, is not well characterized because of their small volumes. We present image-guided, high-throughput mass spectrometry-based protocols to chemically profile large populations of both dense-core vesicles and lucent vesicles for their lipid and peptide contents, allowing observation of the chemical heterogeneity within and between these two vesicle populations. The proteolytic processing products of four prohormones are observed within the dense-core vesicles, and the mass spectral features corresponding to the specific peptide products suggest three distinct dense-core vesicle populations. Notable differences in the lipid mass range are observed between the dense-core and lucent vesicles. These single-organelle mass spectrometry approaches are adaptable to characterize a range of subcellular structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1238
Number of pages6
JournalNature Methods
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Cellular neuroscience
  • Metabolomics
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Endocrinology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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