Localization of sterols and oxysterols in mouse brain reveals distinct spatial cholesterol metabolism


The brain is a remarkably complex organ and cholesterol homeostasis underpins brain function. It is known that cholesterol is not evenly distributed across different brain regions; however, the precise map of cholesterol metabolism in the brain remains unclear. If cholesterol metabolism is to be correlated with brain function it is essential to generate such a map. Here we describe an advanced mass spectrometry platform to reveal spatial cholesterol metabolism in situ at 400-µm spot diameter on 10-µm tissue slices from mouse brain. We mapped, not only cholesterol, but also other biologically active sterols arising from cholesterol turnover in both wild type and mice lacking cholesterol 24S-hydroxylase (CYP46A1), the major cholesterol metabolizing enzyme.