The pathogenesis of impaired healing within pressure ulcers remains poorly characterized and rarely examined. We describe the results of a pilot study that applies matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging mass spectrometry technology for direct tissue analysis to evaluate proteomic signatures ranging from 2 to 20 kDa and phospholipids from 300-1,200 Da in focal regions within the wound microenvironment. Distinguishing molecular differences were apparent between upper vs. lower regions of ulcers and further contrasted against adjacent dermis and epidermal margins using protein profiles, ion density maps, principal component analysis and significant analysis of microarrays. Several proteins previously uncharacterized in pressure ulcers, the α-defensins (human neutrophil peptide [HNP]-1, -2, -3), are potential markers indicating whether the wound status is improving or being prolonged in a deleterious, chronic state. Thymosin β4 appears to be a favorable protein marker showing higher relative levels in adjacent dermis and maturing areas of the wound bed. Lipidomic examination revealed the presence of major lipid classes: glycerophosphocholines, glycerophosphoglycerols, glycerophosphoinositols, and triacylglycerols. Our pilot data examined from either a global perspective using proteomic or lipidomic signatures or as individual distributions reveal that imaging mass spectrometry technology can be effectively used for discovery and spatial mapping of molecular disturbances within the microenvironment of chronic wounds.
2011 by the Wound Healing Society.