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Table 1 Imaging mass spectrometry ionization techniques: application, advantages, and disadvantages [8, 9, 11].

From: Yale School of Public Health Symposium on tissue imaging mass spectrometry: illuminating phenotypic heterogeneity and drug disposition at the molecular level

Application Ionization Advantages Disadvantages
Tissue molecular imaging MALDI • Label-free analysis
• High-sensitivity
• Use over a broad mass range
• High-spatial resolution (≤ 1 μm)
• Application on both formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue microarrays and on fresh tissue samples.
• Low throughput
• Sample preparation can lead to spatial dislocation or chemical modifications
• Matrix dependent analysis
DESI • Label-free analysis
• Ambient ionization method
• Direct solid surface sampling
• Multiple charged ions
• Minimal sample preparation
• Soft ionization method
• Generally less costly upon comparison to MALDI
• Imaging in the low-mass region—limited use for proteins
• Poorer spatial resolution compared to MALDI
• Solvent dependent