Date Published:2015 Aug
Described here are the results from the profiling of the proteins arginine vasopressin (AVP) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from normal human pituitary gland and pituitary adenoma tissue sections, using a fully automated droplet-based liquid-microjunction surface-sampling-HPLC-ESI-MS-MS system for spatially resolved sampling, HPLC separation, and mass spectrometric detection. Excellent correlation was found between the protein distribution data obtained with this method and data obtained with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) chemical imaging analyses of serial sections of the same tissue. The protein distributions correlated with the visible anatomic pattern of the pituitary gland. AVP was most abundant in the posterior pituitary gland region (neurohypophysis), and ATCH was dominant in the anterior pituitary gland region (adenohypophysis). The relative amounts of AVP and ACTH sampled from a series of ACTH-secreting and non-secreting pituitary adenomas correlated with histopathological evaluation. ACTH was readily detected at significantly higher levels in regions of ACTH-secreting adenomas and in normal anterior adenohypophysis compared with non-secreting adenoma and neurohypophysis. AVP was mostly detected in normal neurohypophysis, as expected. This work reveals that a fully automated droplet-based liquid-microjunction surface-sampling system coupled to HPLC-ESI-MS-MS can be readily used for spatially resolved sampling, separation, detection, and semi-quantitation of physiologically-relevant peptide and protein hormones, including AVP and ACTH, directly from human tissue. In addition, the relative simplicity, rapidity, and specificity of this method support the potential of this basic technology, with further advancement, for assisting surgical decision-making. Graphical Abstract Mass spectrometry based profiling of hormones in human pituitary gland and tumor thin tissue sections.