ToF-SIMS and principal component analysis of lipids and amino acids from inflamed and dysplastic human colonic mucosa

Marco Urbini, Valentina Petito, Francesco De Notaristefani, Franco Scaldaferri, Antonio Gasbarrini, Luca Tortora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Here, time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) and multivariate analysis were combined to study the role of ulcerative colitis (UC), a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), in the colon cancer progression. ToF-SIMS was used to obtain mass spectra and chemical maps from the mucosal surface of human normal (NC), inflamed (IC), and dysplastic (DC) colon tissues. Chemical mapping with a lateral resolution of ≈ 1 μm allowed to evaluate zonation of fatty acids and amino acids as well as the morphological condition of the intestinal glands. High mass resolution ToF-SIMS spectra showed chemical differences in lipid and amino acid composition as a function of pathological state. In positive ion mode, mono- (MAG), di- (DAG), and triacylglycerol (TAG) signals were detected in NC tissues, while in IC and DC tissues, the only cholesterol was present as lipid class representative. Signals from fatty acids, collected in negative ion mode, were subjected to principal component analysis (PCA). PCA showed a strict correlation between IC and DC samples, due to an increase of stearic, arachidonic, and linoleic acid. In the same way, differences in the amino acid composition were highlighted through multivariate analysis. PCA revealed that glutamic acid, leucine/isoleucine, and valine fragments are related to IC tissues. On the other hand, tyrosine, methionine, and tryptophan peaks contributed highly to the separation of DC tissues. Finally, a classification of NC, IC, and DC patients was also achieved through hierarchical cluster analysis of amino acid fragments. In this case, human colonic inflammation showed a stronger relationship with normal than dysplastic condition. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6097-6111
Number of pages15
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colon cancer
  • IBD
  • PCA
  • ToF-SIMS
  • Ulcerative colitis


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