Biochemical fingerprint of colorectal cancer cell lines using label-free live single-cell Raman spectroscopy

Julia Gala de Pablo, Fern Armistead, Sally Peyman, David Bonthron, Michael Adam Lones, Stephen Leslie Smith, Stephen Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Label-free live single-cell Raman spectroscopy was used to obtain a chemical fingerprint of colorectal cancer cells including the classification of the SW480 and SW620 cell line model system, derived from primary and secondary tumour cells from the same patient. High-quality Raman spectra were acquired from hundreds of live cells, showing high reproducibility between experiments. Principal component analysis with linear discriminant analysis yielded the best cell classification, with an accuracy of 98.7±0.3% (standard error) when compared to discrimination trees or support vector machines. SW480 showed higher content of the disordered secondary protein structure amide III band, whereas SW620 showed larger α-helix and β-sheet band content. The SW620 cell line also displayed higher nucleic acid, phosphates, saccharide, and CH2 content. HL60, HT29, HCT116, SW620 and SW480 live single-cell spectra were classified using PCA/LDA with an accuracy of 92.4±0.4% (standard error), showing differences mainly in the β-sheet content, the cytochrome C bands, the CH-stretching regions, the lactate contributions and the DNA content. The lipids contributions above 2900 cm-1 and the lactate contributions at 1785 cm-1 appeared to be dependent on the colorectal adenocarcinoma stage, the advanced stage cell lines showing lower lipid and higher lactate content. The results demonstrate that these cell lines can be distinguished with high confidence, suggesting that Raman spectroscopy on live cells can distinguish between different disease stages, and could play an important role clinically as a diagnostic tool for cell phenotyping.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Early online date2 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 May 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 The Authors


  • Raman spectroscopy
  • single-cell
  • living-cells
  • metastasis
  • colorectal cancer

Cite this