This study aims to evaluate the feasibility of applying high wavenumber (HW) confocal Raman spectroscopy for non-invasive assessment of menopause-related hormonal changes in the cervix as well as for determining the effect of Vagifem® treatment on postmenopausal women with atrophic cervix. A rapid HW confocal Raman spectroscopy system coupled with a ball lens fiber-optic Raman probe was utilized for in vivo cervical tissue Raman measurements at 785 nm excitation. A total of 164 in vivo HW Raman spectra (premenopausal (n = 104), postmenopausal-prevagifem (n = 34), postmenopausal-postvagifem (n = 26)) were measured from the normal cervix of 26 patients undergoing colposcopy. We established the biochemical basis of premenopausal, postmenopausal-prevagifem and postmenopausal-postvagifem cervix using semiquantitative biomolecular modeling derived from Raman-active biochemicals (i.e., lipids, proteins and water) that play a critical role in HW Raman spectral changes associated with the menopausal process. The diagnostic algorithms developed based on partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) together with leave-one patient-out, cross-validation yielded the diagnostic sensitivities of 88.5%, 91.2% and 88.5%, and specificities of 91.7%, 90.8% and 99.3%, respectively, for non-invasive in vivo discrimination among premenopausal, postmenopausal-prevagifem and postmenopausal-postvagifem cervix. This work demonstrates for the first time that HW confocal Raman spectroscopy in conjunction with biomolecular modeling can be a powerful diagnostic tool for identifying hormone/menopause-related variations in the native squamous epithelium of normal cervix, as well as for assessing the effect of Vagifem treatment on postmenopausal atrophic cervix in vivo during clinical colposcopic inspections.
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