Molecular imaging of mouse brain tissue using Cluster Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry

  • Irma Berrueta Razo

Student thesis: Phd


ToF-SIMS imaging has been drawing attention due to the wide range of applications in the biological and biomedical fields. These applications include the acquisition of quantitative and qualitative data that ranges in scale from single cells to organs, image visualisation and interpretation of biomarkers for diagnosis and development of pharmaceutics. This study focused on molecular imaging of mouse brain tissue sections using cluster primary ion beams. First, cluster ion beams were applied to comparative background studies of biomolecules and brain total lipid extract. Enhancement of the secondary ion signal was observed using water-containing cluster primary ion beams, especially for [M+H]+ type secondary ions. Water-containing clusters were then used to acquire ToF-SIMS images from the cerebellar area of serial mouse brain tissue sections. Again, water-containing cluster beams produced the highest secondary ion yields in both grey and white matter, gaining a new level of insight into the lipid compositions of both types of tissue in the brain. A clinical case was also evaluated with ToF-SIMS imaging, using cluster beams for the analysis of 3xTg-AD mouse brain tissue. SIMS images were registered with fluorescence microscopy images for the in situ identification and co-localisation of the Amyloid-β plaques on the SIMS images. Spectra from regions of interest were analysed to identify possible ion fragments derived from the Aβ protein. The co-localisation of cholesterol was also studied from images obtained with different primary ion beams. The results presented show that cluster ToF-SIMS can be successfully applied to brain tissue imaging. New primary ion beam technologies allow us to acquire data with more useful secondary ion yield for clinical applications and biological research. Nevertheless, future technological improvements are required for specialised applications e.g. cellular imaging. Moreover, processing the data obtained is still challenging and more data processing tools are also needed for interpretation.
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorNicholas Lockyer (Supervisor) & John Vickerman (Supervisor)


  • Mouse brain sections
  • Mass spectrometry imaging
  • Lipidomics
  • ToF-SIMS
  • Tissue imaging
  • Molecular imaging
  • Cluster ToF-SIMS

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