Berghmans, E., et al. MALDI Mass Spectrometry Imaging Linked with Top-Down Proteomics as a Tool to Study the Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Tumor Microenvironment, Methods and protocols. Volume 2, Number 2, 44
Advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is generally linked with a poor prognosis and is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Since only a minority of the patients respond well to chemotherapy and/or targeted therapies, immunotherapy might be a valid alternative in the lung cancer treatment field, as immunotherapy attempts to strengthen the body’s own immune response to recognize and eliminate malignant tumor cells. However, positive response patterns to immunotherapy remain unclear. In this study, we demonstrate how immune-related factors could be visualized from single NSCLC tissue sections (Biobank@UZA) while retaining their spatial information by using matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry imaging (MSI), in order to unravel the molecular profile of NSCLC patients. In this way, different regions in lung cancerous tissues could be discriminated based on the molecular composition. In addition, we linked visualization (MALDI MSI) and identification (based on liquid chromatography higher resolution mass spectrometry) of the molecules of interest for the correct biological interpretation of the observed molecular differences within the area in which these molecules are detected. This is of major importance to fully understand the underlying molecular profile of the NSCLC tumor microenvironment.