Intraoperative assessment of isocitrate dehydrogenase mutation status in human gliomas using desorption electrospray ionization–mass spectrometry

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  • 1 Department of Chemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana;
  • | 2 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Louisville, Kentucky; and
  • | 3 Department of Neurological Surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine, Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine, Indianapolis, Indiana
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The authors describe a rapid intraoperative ambient ionization mass spectrometry (MS) method for determining isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) mutation status from glioma tissue biopsies. This method offers new glioma management options and may impact extent of resection goals. Assessment of the IDH mutation is key for accurate glioma diagnosis, particularly for differentiating diffuse glioma from other neoplastic and reactive inflammatory conditions, a challenge for the standard intraoperative diagnostic consultation that relies solely on morphology.


Banked glioma specimens (n = 37) were analyzed by desorption electrospray ionization–MS (DESI-MS) to develop a diagnostic method to detect the known altered oncometabolite in IDH-mutant gliomas, 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG). The method was used intraoperatively to analyze tissue smears obtained from glioma patients undergoing resection and to rapidly diagnose IDH mutation status (< 5 minutes). Fifty-one tumor core biopsies from 25 patients (14 wild type [WT] and 11 mutant) were examined and data were analyzed using analysis of variance and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis.


The optimized DESI-MS method discriminated between IDH-WT and IDH-mutant gliomas, with an average sensitivity and specificity of 100%. The average normalized DESI-MS 2HG signal was an order of magnitude higher in IDH-mutant glioma than in IDH-WT glioma. The DESI 2HG signal intensities correlated with independently measured 2HG concentrations (R2 = 0.98). In 1 case, an IDH1 R132H–mutant glioma was misdiagnosed as a demyelinating condition by frozen section histology during the intraoperative consultation, and no resection was performed pending the final pathology report. A second craniotomy and tumor resection was performed after the final pathology provided a diagnosis most consistent with an IDH-mutant glioblastoma. During the second craniotomy, high levels of 2HG in the tumor core biopsies were detected.


This study demonstrates the capability to differentiate rapidly between IDH-mutant gliomas and IDH-WT conditions by DESI-MS during tumor resection. DESI-MS analysis of tissue smears is simple and can be easily integrated into the standard intraoperative pathology consultation. This approach may aid in solving differential diagnosis problems associated with low-grade gliomas and could influence intraoperative decisions regarding extent of resection, ultimately improving patient outcome. Research is ongoing to expand the patient cohort, systematically validate the DESI-MS method, and investigate the relationships between 2HG and tumor heterogeneity.


ACN = acetonitrile; DESI = desorption electrospray ionization; DMF = dimethylformamide; GBM = glioblastoma; IDH = isocitrate dehydrogenase; LTQ = linear trap quadrupole; MRSI = MR spectroscopy imaging; MS = mass spectrometry; ROC = receiver operating characteristic; TCP = tumor cell percentage; WT = wild type; 2HG = 2-hydroxyglutarate.

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Figure from Minchev et al. (pp 150–158).

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Aaron Cohen-Gadol: Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online January 4, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2018.8.JNS181207.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.


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