Monitoring cellular behaviour using Raman spectroscopy for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications



Raman spectroscopy has been used to determine the chemical composition of materials for over 70 years. Recent spectacular advances in laser and CCD camera technology creating instruments with higher sensitivity and lower cost have initiated a strong resurgence in the technique, ranging from fundamental research to process control methodology. One such area of increased potential is in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM), where autologous cell culture, stem cell biology and growth of human cells on biomaterial scaffolds are of high importance. Traditional techniques for the in vitro analysis of biochemical cell processes involves cell techniques such as fixation, lysis or the use of radioactive or chemical labels which are time consuming and can involve the perpetuation of artefacts. Several studies have already shown the potential of Raman spectroscopy to provide useful information on key biochemical markers within cells, however, many of these studies have utilised micro- or confocal Raman to do this, which are not suited to the rapid and non-invasive monitoring of cells. For this study a versatile fit-for-purpose Raman spectrometer was used, employing a macro-sampling optical platform (laser spot size 100 μm at focus on the sample) to discriminate between different TERM relevant cell types and viable and non-viable cells. The results clearly show that the technique is capable of obtaining Raman spectra from live cells in a non-destructive, rapid and non-invasive manner, however, in these experiments it was not possible to discriminate between different cell lines. Despite this, notable differences were observed in the spectra obtained from viable and non-viable cells, showing significant changes in the spectral profiles of protein, DNA/RNA and lipid cell constituents after cell death. It is evident that the method employed here shows significant potential for further utilisation in TERM, providing data directly from live cells that fits within a quality assurance framework and provides the opportunity to analyse cells in a non-destructive manner.



The authors would like to express their gratitude to the EPSRC for funding this project (EP/C534247/1—Remedi—Regenerative Medicine—A New Industry).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Engineering, Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre (NIBEC)University of Ulster at JordanstownNewtownabbeyNorthern Ireland, UK

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