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Next-generation protein analysis in the pathology department
  1. Melek Ahmed1,
  2. Glenn Broeckx2,
  3. Geert Baggerman3,4,
  4. Karin Schildermans4,5,
  5. Patrick Pauwels2,6,
  6. Amaryllis H Van Craenenbroeck7,8,
  7. Amelie Dendooven2,6,8
  1. 1 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Medicine, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  2. 2 Department of Pathology, University Hospital of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  3. 3 Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  4. 4 Unit Health, Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Mol, Belgium
  5. 5 Departments of Molecular Imaging, Pathology, Radiotherapy and Oncology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  6. 6 Center for Oncological Research Antwerp (CORE), University of Antwerp, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Antwerp, Belgium
  7. 7 Department of Nephrology and Renal Transplantation, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  8. 8 Laboratory of Experimental Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Professor Amelie Dendooven, Department of Pathology, Universitair Ziekenhuis Antwerpen, Edegem 2650, Belgium; amelie.dendooven{at}


Traditionally, immunohistochemistry (IHC) is used by pathologists to localise specific proteins or peptides in tissue slides. In the era of personalised medicine, however, molecular tissue analysis becomes indispensable for correct diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic decision, not only on the DNA or mRNA level but also on the protein level. Combining molecular information with imaging presents many advantages. Therefore, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI IMS) is a promising technique to be added to the armamentarium of the pathologist. Here, we focus on the workflow, advantages and drawbacks of both MALDI IMS and IHC. We also briefly discuss a few other protein imaging modalities and give examples of applications.

  • proteomics
  • mass spectrometry
  • pathology
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  • Handling editor Tahir S Pillay.

  • Contributors DA designed the initial structure of the review. AM, BG, DA, VCAH and BG edited and reviewed the manuscript. GB and PP reviewed the manuscript. SK performed the MALDI experiment to generate a picture of a human kidney.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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