Integrated molecular imaging technologies for investigation of metals in biological systems: A brief review

William J. Perry, Andy Weiss, Raf Van de Plas, Jeffrey M. Spraggins, Richard M. Caprioli, Eric P. Skaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Metals play an essential role in biological systems and are required as structural or catalytic co-factors in many proteins. Disruption of the homeostatic control and/or spatial distributions of metals can lead to disease. Imaging technologies have been developed to visualize elemental distributions across a biological sample. Measurement of elemental distributions by imaging mass spectrometry and imaging X-ray fluorescence are increasingly employed with technologies that can assess histological features and molecular compositions. Data from several modalities can be interrogated as multimodal images to correlate morphological, elemental, and molecular properties. Elemental and molecular distributions have also been axially resolved to achieve three-dimensional volumes, dramatically increasing the biological information. In this review, we provide an overview of recent developments in the field of metal imaging with an emphasis on multimodal studies in two and three dimensions. We specifically highlight studies that present technological advancements and biological applications of how metal homeostasis affects human health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-135
JournalCurrent Opinion in Chemical Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • 3D imaging
  • Data-driven image fusion
  • Image fusion
  • Imaging mass spectrometry
  • IMS
  • Integrated imaging
  • Metal imaging
  • Metallomics
  • Molecular imaging
  • Multimodal

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