Lipid Landscape of the Human Retina and Supporting Tissues Revealed by High Resolution Imaging Mass Spectrometry
The human retina evolved to facilitate complex visual tasks. It supports vision at light levels ranging from starlight to sunlight, and its supporting tissues and vasculature regulate plasma-delivered lipophilic essentials for vision, including retinoids (vitamin A derivatives). The human retina is of particular interest because of its unique anatomic specializations for high-acuity and color vision that are also vulnerable to prevalent blinding diseases. The retina's exquisite cellular
... ture is composed of numerous cell types that are aligned horizontally, giving rise to structurally distinct cell, synaptic, and vascular layers that are visible in histology and in diagnostic clinical imaging. Suitable for retinal investigations, MALDI imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) technologies are now capable of providing images at low micrometer spatial resolution with high levels of chemical specificity. In this study, a multimodal imaging approach combined with a recently developed method of high accuracy multi-image registration was used to define the localization of lipids in human retina tissue at laminar, cellular, and sub-cellular levels. Data acquired by IMS combined with autofluorescence and bright-field microscopy of human retina sections in macular and peripheral regions indicate differences in distributions and abundances of lipid species across and within single cell types. Of note is localization of signals within specific layers of macula, localization within different compartments of photoreceptors and RPE, complementarity of signals between macular retina and non-macular RPE, and evidence that lipids differing by a single double bond can have markedly different distributions.