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Anal Chem. 2010 Jun 15;82(12):5020-7. doi: 10.1021/ac902697q.

Assessing differentiation status of human embryonic stem cells noninvasively using Raman microspectroscopy.

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Michael Smith Laboratories, The University of British Columbia, 2185 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z4.


Raman microspectroscopy is an attractive approach for chemical imaging of biological specimens, including live cells, without the need for chemi-selective stains. Using a microspectrometer, near-infrared Raman spectra throughout the range 663 cm(-1) to 1220 cm(-1) were obtained from colonies of CA1 human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and CA1 cells that had been stimulated to differentiate for 3 weeks by 10% fetal bovine serum on gelatin. Distributions and intensities of spectral bands attributed to proteins varied significantly between undifferentiated and differentiated cells. Importantly, compared to proteins and lipids, the band intensities of nucleic acids were dominant in undifferentiated cells with a dominance-reversal in differentiated cells. Thus, we could identify intensity ratios of particular protein-related bands (e.g., 757 cm(-1) tryptophan) to nucleic acid bands (784 cm(-1) DNA/RNA composite) that were effective in discriminating between spectra of undifferentiated and differentiated cells. We observed no discernible negative effects due to the laser exposure in terms of morphology, proliferation, or pluripotency of the stem cells. We conclude that Raman microscopy and complementary data processing procedures provide a rapid, noninvasive approach that can distinguish hESCs from differentiated cells. This is the first report to identify specific Raman markers for the differentiation status of hESCs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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