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Anal Chem. 2015 Jul 21;87(14):7402-10. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b01603. Epub 2015 Jul 10.

Looking into Living Cell Systems: Planar Waveguide Microfluidic NMR Detector for in Vitro Metabolomics of Tumor Spheroids.

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Leibniz Institut für analytische Wissenschaften - ISAS e.V., Bunsen-Kirchhoff-Strasse 11, 44139 Dortmund, Germany.


The complex cell metabolism and its link to oncogenic signaling pathways have received huge interest within the last few years. But the lack of advanced analytical tools for the investigation of living cell metabolism is still a challenge to be faced. Therefore, we designed and fabricated a novel miniaturized microslot NMR detector with on-board heater integrated with a microfluidic device as NMR sample holder. For the first time, a tumor spheroid of 500 μm diameter and consisting of 9000 cells has been studied noninvasively and online for 24 h. The dynamic processes of production and degradation of 23 intra- and extracellular metabolites were monitored. Remarkably high concentrations of lactate and alanine were observed, being an indicator for a shift from oxidative to glycolytic metabolism. In summary, this methodical development has proven to be a successful analytical tool for the elucidation of cellular functions and their corresponding biochemical pathways. Additionally, the planar geometry of the microslot NMR detector allows the hyphenation with versatile lab-on-a chip (LOC) technology. This opens a new window for metabolomics studies on living cells and can be implemented into new application fields in biotechnology and life sciences.

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