Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Volume 187, 2016
Previous Article Next Article

Infrared imaging of small molecules in living cells: from in vitro metabolic analysis to cytopathology

Author affiliations


A major topic in InfraRed (IR) spectroscopic studies of living cells is the complexity of the vibrational spectra, involving hundreds of overlapping absorption bands from all the cellular components present at detectable concentrations. We focus on the relative contribution of both small-molecule metabolites and macromolecules, while defining the spectroscopic properties of cells and tissue in the middle IR (midIR) region. As a consequence, we show the limitations of current interpretative schemes that rely on a small number of macromolecules for IR band assignment. The discussion is framed specifically around the glycolytic metabolism of cancer cells because of the potential pharmacological applications. Several metabolites involved in glycolysis by A549 lung cancer cells can be identified by this approach, which we refer to as Correlated Cellular Spectro-Microscopy (CSM). It is noteworthy that the rate of formation or consumption of specific molecules could be quantitatively assessed by this approach. We now extend this analysis to the two-dimensional case by performing IR imaging on single cells and cell clusters, detecting variations of metabolite concentration in time and space across the sample. The molecular detail obtained from this analysis allows its use in evaluating the pharmacological effect of inhibitors of glycolytic enzymes with potential consequences for in vitro drug testing. Finally we highlight the implications of the spectral contribution from cellular metabolites on applications in IR spectral cytopathology (SCP).

Back to tab navigation

Publication details

The article was received on 09 Nov 2015, accepted on 14 Dec 2015 and first published on 14 Dec 2015

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C5FD00156K
Author version
Download author version (PDF)
Faraday Discuss., 2016,187, 259-271

  •   Request permissions

    Infrared imaging of small molecules in living cells: from in vitro metabolic analysis to cytopathology

    L. Quaroni, T. Zlateva, K. Wehbe and G. Cinque, Faraday Discuss., 2016, 187, 259
    DOI: 10.1039/C5FD00156K

Search articles by author