Lipid Heterogeneity between Astrocytes and Neurons Revealed by Single-Cell MALDI-MS Combined with Immunocytochemical Classification

Elizabeth K. Neumann, Troy J. Comi, Stanislav S. Rubakhin, Jonathan V. Sweedler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Transcriptomics characterizes cells based on their potential molecular repertoire whereas direct mass spectrometry (MS) provides information on the actual compounds present within cells. Single-cell matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) MS can measure the chemical contents of individual cells but spectra are difficult to correlate to conventional cell types, limiting the metabolic information obtained. We present a protocol that combines MALDI-MS with immunocytochemistry to assay over a thousand individual rat brain cells. The approach entwines the wealth of knowledge obtained by immunocytochemical profiling with mass spectral information on the predominant lipids within each cell. While many lipid species showed a high degree of similarity between neurons and astrocytes, seventeen significantly differed between the two cell types, including four phosphatidylethanolamines elevated in astrocytes and nine phosphatidylcholines in neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5910-5914
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number18
StatePublished - Apr 23 2019



  • astrocytes
  • immunochemistry
  • lipids
  • mass spectrometry
  • neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)

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