Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) is a powerful and versatile technique able to investigate the spatial distribution of multiple non-labelled endogenous and exogenous analytes simultaneously, within a wide range of samples. Over the last two decades, MSI has found widespread application for an extensive range of disciplines including pre-clinical drug discovery, clinical applications and human identification for forensic purposes. Technical advances in both instrumentation and software capabilities have led to a continual increase in the interest in MSI; however, there are still some limitations. In this review, we discuss the emerging applications in MSI that significantly impact three key areas of mass spectrometry (MS) research—clinical, pre-clinical and forensics—and roadblocks to the expansion of use of MSI in these areas.
Keywords: mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI), secondary ionisation mass spectrometry (SIMS), desorption electrospray ionisation (DESI), laser ablation inductively coupled plasma (LA-ICP), liquid extraction surface analysis (LESA), imaging mass cytometry (IMC), biomolecular imaging, technical advancements, imaging software