Fixation and drying protocols for the preparation of cell samples for time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry analysis

Malm, J., Giannaras, D., Riehle, M.O. , Gadegaard, N. and Sjovall, P. (2009) Fixation and drying protocols for the preparation of cell samples for time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry analysis. Analytical Chemistry, 81(17), pp. 7107-7205. (doi: 10.1021/ac900636v)

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Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) is a promising tool for subcellular chemical analysis of biological cells. However, to obtain relevant information, the method used for sample preparation is critical. In this work, we have used TOF-SIMS, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and interference reflection microscopy (IRM) to study the effects of different fixation and drying methods on the morphology and chemical structure of human fibroblast cells (hTERT) adhered to a silicon surface. Specifically, two fixation techniques (chemical fixation with glutaraldehyde and cryofixation by plunge freezing) and two drying techniques (freeze drying and alcohol substitution drying) were investigated. Cryofixation followed by freeze drying was determined to produce dried cells with preserved cell morphology, intact cell membranes, and retained sodium/potassium ion concentration gradients across the plasma membrane. By washing samples in an aqueous solution of ammonium formate (AF) before cryofixation, the accumulation of salts on the sample surface during drying could be suppressed. IRM measurements showed that the cell morphology was preserved during washing with ammonium formate, although some swelling occurred. Compared with cryofixation, cells fixed with glutaraldehyde showed finer structures on the cell surface in SEM and similar lipid distributions in TOF-SIMS, but the sodium/potassium ion gradients were not retained. Alcohol drying was determined to remove cell membrane phospholipids significantly, although the use of osmium tetroxide as a post-fixative was shown to decrease this effect

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gadegaard, Professor Nikolaj and Riehle, Dr Mathis
Authors: Malm, J., Giannaras, D., Riehle, M.O., Gadegaard, N., and Sjovall, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Biomedical Engineering
Journal Name:Analytical Chemistry
Journal Abbr.:Anal. Chem.
Published Online:29 July 2009

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