Cell cycle progression plays a vital role in regulating proliferation, metabolism, and apoptosis. Three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures have emerged as an important class of in vitro disease models, and incorporating the variation occurring from cell cycle progression in these systems is critical. Here, we report the use of Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopic imaging to identify subtle biochemical changes within cells, indicative of the G1/S and G2/M phases of the cell cycle. Following previous studies, we first synchronized samples from two-dimensional (2D) cell cultures, confirmed their states by flow cytometry and DNA quantification, and recorded spectra. We determined two critical wavenumbers (1059 and 1219 cm-1) as spectral indicators of the cell cycle for a set of isogenic breast cancer cell lines (MCF10AT series). These two simple spectral markers were then applied to distinguish cell cycle stages in a 3D cell culture model using four cell lines that represent the main stages of cancer progression from normal cells to metastatic disease. Temporal dependence of spectral biomarkers during acini maturation validated the hypothesis that the cells are more proliferative in the early stages of acini development; later stages of the culture showed stability in the overall composition but unique spatial differences in cells in the two phases. Altogether, this study presents a computational and quantitative approach for cell phase analysis in tissue-like 3D structures without any biomarker staining and provides a means to characterize the impact of the cell cycle on 3D biological systems and disease diagnostic studies using IR imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3349-3357
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 14 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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