13C Tracer Analysis and Metabolomics in 3D Cultured Cancer Cells

  • Marit van Gorsel
  • Ilaria Elia
  • Sarah-Maria FendtEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1862)


Metabolomics and 13C tracer analysis are state-of-the-art techniques that allow determining the concentration of metabolites and the activity of metabolic pathways, respectively. Three dimensional (3D) cultures of cancer cells constitute an enriched in vitro environment that can be used to assay anchorage-independent growth, spheroid formation, and extracellular matrix production by (cancer) cells. Here, we describe how to perform metabolomics and 13C tracer analysis in 3D cultures of cancer cells.

Key words

Spheroids  3D cell culture Metabolomics 13C tracing  GC-MS LC-MS  Cancer metabolism 



MvG is supported by the Emmanuel van der Schueren grant from Kom op tegen Kanker (Stand up to Cancer), the Flemish cancer society. S-MF acknowledges funding from the European Research Council under the ERC Consolidator Grant Agreement n. 771486–MetaRegulation; Marie Curie—CIG, FWO—Odysseus II, FWO—Research Grants/Projects, Eugène Yourassowsky Schenking, and KU Leuven—Methusalem Co-Funding. We would like to acknowledge for image elements used in Fig. 1 (Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marit van Gorsel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ilaria Elia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sarah-Maria Fendt
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Cellular Metabolism and Metabolic Regulation, VIB Center for Cancer BiologyVIBLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Cellular Metabolism and Metabolic Regulation, Department of Oncology, Leuven Cancer Institute (LKI)KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Laboratory of Cellular Metabolism and Metabolic Regulation, Department of OncologyVIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer BiologyLeuvenBelgium

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