Systemic bacterial infection is characterized by a robust whole-organism inflammatory response. Analysis of the immune response to infection involves technologies that typically focus on single organ systems and lack spatial information. Additionally, the analysis of individual inflammatory proteins requires antibodies specific to the protein of interest, limiting the panel of proteins that can be analyzed. Herein we describe the application of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI IMS) to mice systemically infected with Staphylococcus aureus to identify inflammatory protein masses that respond to infection throughout an entire infected animal. Integrating the resolution afforded by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with the sensitivity of MALDI IMS provides three-dimensional spatially resolved information regarding the distribution of innate immune proteins during systemic infection, allowing comparisons to in vivo structural information and soft-tissue contrast via MRI. Thus, integrating MALDI IMS with MRI provides a systems-biology approach to study inflammation during infection.
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