Simultaneous quantification of multiple endogenous biothiols in single living cells by plasmonic Raman probes†
Intracellular biothiols mediate many important physiological and pathological processes. Due to their low content and competing thiol-reactivity, it is still an unmet challenge to quantify them within a complicated intracellular environment. Herein, we demonstrated a strategy to discriminate three biothiols, i.e. cysteine (Cys), homo-cysteine (Hcy) and glutathione (GSH), and quantify their concentrations within single living cells, using one platform of Raman probe. By monitoring the reaction kinetics of biothiols with Raman probes and discriminating their products with a quantitative principal component analysis (qPCA) method, these three biothiols could be simultaneously quantified in both cell lysis and single living cells. The concentrations of Cys, Hcy and GSH in single Hela cells were 158 ± 19 μM, 546 ± 67 μM and 5.07 ± 0.62 mM, respectively, which gives the precise concentrations of these three biothiols at a single cell level for the first time. This method provides a general strategy for discriminating each component from a mixed system and has potential for quantifying any biomolecules within an in vitro or in vivo biological environment.