Mass Spectrometry Imaging Shows Modafinil, A Student Study Drug, Changes the Lipid Composition of the Fly Brain

Mai H. Philipsen, Elias Ranjbari, Chaoyi Gu, Andrew G. Ewing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modafinil, a widely used psychoactive drug, has been shown to exert a positive impact on cognition and is used to treat sleep disorders and hyperactivity. Using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometric imaging, we studied the changes of brain lipids of Drosophila melanogaster induced by modafinil to gain insight into the functional mechanism of modafinil in the brain. We found that upon modafinil treatment, the abundance of phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin species in the central brain of Drosophila is significantly decreased, whereas the levels of phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylinositol in the brains show significant enhancement compared to the control flies. The alteration of brain lipids caused by modafinil is consistent with previous studies about cognition-related drugs and offers a plausible mechanism regarding the action of modafinil in the brain as well as a potential target for the treatment of certain disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17378-17382
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 2 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)

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