Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) is a technology that utilizes the high sensitivity and specificity of mass spectrometry, combined with a high spatial resolution to characterize the molecular species present in skin tissue. In this article, we use MALDI IMS to map specific lipids characteristic of two important skin appendages in minipig skin: the sebaceous glands and hair follicles. A set of specific lipid markers linked to the synthesis of sebum, stages of sebum production, and the secretion of sebum for two different sebaceous gland subzones, the peripheral and central necrotic, were identified. Furthermore, biochemical pathway analysis of the identified markers provides potential drug-targeting strategies to reduce sebum overproduction in pathological conditions. In addition, specific lipid markers characteristic of the different layers in the hair follicle bulge area, including the outer root sheath, the inner root sheath, and the medulla that are associated with the growth cycles of the hair, were determined. This research highlights the ability of MALDI IMS to link a molecular distribution not only to the morphological features in skin tissue but to the physiological state as well. Thus, this platform can provide a basis for the investigation of biochemical pathways as well as the mechanisms of disease and pharmacology in the skin, which will ultimately be critical for drug discovery and the development of dermatology-related illnesses.
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