Preparation of Frozen Sections of Multicellular Tumor Spheroids Coated with Ice for Mass Spectrometry Imaging

Peisi Xie, Chao Zhao, Xiaoping Liang, Xiaoping Liang, Wei Huang, Yanyan Chen, Zongwei Cai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing studies have utilized mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) that is a label-free tool to investigate drug penetration and drug biotransformation in multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTS). Currently, the gelatin-assisted sectioning method is widely used to prepare frozen sections of MCTS for MSI. However, owing to the limited transparency of frozen gelatin, MCTS with diameters less than 500 μm that closely mimic solid tumors are difficult to be detected when cryosectioning. In order to identify the presence of MCTS, hematoxylin and eosin staining for frozen sections and dye pretreatment for MCTS were employed in previous works, which either increased the analytical time and cost in sample preparation or caused signal suppression in sample analysis. Herein, a new sectioning method was developed to prepare MCTS frozen sections. MCTS was coated with ice to ensure good visibility for small-size MCTS. The optimal cutting temperature compound was added around the ice block to assist the formation of frozen sections. A precast frozen mold was prepared to allow the acquisition of complete MCTS frozen sections. The developed method was applied to investigate lipid distribution in MCTS by using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization MSI. Compared to the gelatin-assisted sectioning method, our method did not cause signal suppression and analyte delocalization. Thus, this method provides an easy, universal, and innovative strategy to prepare MCTS frozen sections for further MSI analysis. Besides, we applied our method to investigate the penetration of bisphenol A in MCTS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7413-7418
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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