Use of infrared microspectroscopy to elucidate a specific chemical signature associated with hypoxia levels found in glioblastoma†
Hypoxia is a common feature of solid tumours and is associated with poor prognosis, resistance to radio- and chemotherapy, and tumour aggressiveness. For predictive purposes as well as for improved therapeutic intervention, it is increasingly needed to have direct and specific diagnostic tools in order to measure the extent of, and changes in, tumour hypoxia. In this article, we have investigated the potential of Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) microspectroscopy, at cellular and subcellular resolution, for detecting hypoxia-induced metabolic changes in brain tumour (glioblastoma) cell lines and in short term primary cultures derived from patient samples. The most prominent and common changes observed were the increase in glycogen (specifically in the U87MG cell line) and lipids (all cell lines studied). Additionally, each cell line presented specific individual metabolic fingerprints. The metabolic changes did not evolve markedly with time (from 1 to 5 days hypoxic incubation), and yet were harder to detect under chronic hypoxic conditions, which is consistent with cellular adaptation occurring upon long term changes in the microenvironment. The metabolic signature was similar regardless of the severity of the hypoxic insult and was replicated by the hypoxia mimetic drug dimethyloxalylglycine (DMOG). To investigate any specific changes at subcellular levels and to improve the sensitivity of the detection method, spectra were recorded separately in the cytoplasm and in the nucleus of D566 glioblastoma cells, thanks to the use of a synchrotron source. We show that this method provides improved detection in both cell compartments. Whilst there was a high spectral variability between cell lines, we show that FTIR microspectroscopy allowed the detection of the common metabolic changes triggered by hypoxia regardless of cell type, providing a potential new approach for the detection of hypoxic tumours.