Investigations into the human skin proteome by classical analytical procedures have not addressed spatial molecular distributions in whole-skin biopsies. The aim of this study was to develop methods for the detection of protein signatures and their spatial disposition in human skin using advanced molecular imaging technology based on mass spectrometry technologies. This technology allows for the generation of protein images at specific molecular weight values without the use of antibody while maintaining tissue architecture. Two experimental approaches were employed: MALDI-MS profiling, where mass spectra were taken from discrete locations based on histology, and MALDI-IMS imaging, where complete molecular images were obtained at various MW values. In addition, proteins were identified by in situ tryptic digestion, sequence analysis of the fragment peptides and protein database searching. We have detected patterns of protein differences that exist between epidermis and dermis as well as subtle regional differences between the papillary and reticular dermis. Furthermore, we were able to detect proteins that are constitutive features of human skin as well as those associated with unique markers of individual variability.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.