Clinical tissue specimens are often unscreened, and preparation of tissue sections for analysis by mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) can cause aerosolization of particles potentially carrying an infectious load. We here present a decontamination approach based on ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light to inactivate clinically relevant pathogens such as herpesviridae, papovaviridae human immunodeficiency virus, or SARS-CoV-2, which may be present in human tissue samples while preserving the biodistributions of analytes within the tissue. High doses of UV-C required for high-level disinfection were found to cause oxidation and photodegradation of endogenous species. Lower UV-C doses maintaining inactivation of clinically relevant pathogens to a level of increased operator safety were found to be less destructive to the tissue metabolome and xenobiotics. These doses caused less alterations of the tissue metabolome and allowed elucidation of the biodistribution of the endogenous metabolites. Additionally, we were able to determine the spatially integrated abundances of the ATR inhibitor ceralasertib from decontaminated human biopsies using desorption electrospray ionization-MSI (DESI-MSI).
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