Intracellular investigation on the differential effects of 4 polyphenols on MCF-7 breast cancer cells by Raman imaging

A. Mignolet, B. R. Wood, E. Goormaghtigh

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The past decades have seen significant interest in the study of polyphenolic compounds as potential therapeutic agents in medicine because they display a vast array of cellular effects beneficial to treat or manage a plethora of chronic diseases including inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular abnormalities and several types of cancer. These compounds act at different stages of carcinogenesis but deciphering their mode of action is a complex task. Live MCF-7 breast cancer cells were investigated using Raman imaging to evaluate the perturbations induced after incubating cells with four different polyphenols: EGCG, gallic acid, resveratrol and tannic acid. First, clear spectral changes could be observed between the spectra of the cytoplasm and the nucleus of live MCF-7 cancer cells demonstrating a difference in their respective global chemical composition. The treatments induced significant modifications in the cells but no clear common pattern of modifications from the 4 drugs could be observed in the cell spectra in the 1800-600 cm-1 region. The high spatial resolution of Raman confocal microscopy enabled both the nucleus and cytoplasm to be independently targeted to study the impact of the polyphenols on the cell line. Positive spectral variations at 2851 cm-1 and 2920 cm-1 as well as in the 1460-1420 cm-1 and 1660-1650 cm-1 spectral regions inside cell cytoplasm reflected an increase of the lipid content after exposure to polyphenols. Lipid accumulation appears to be an early biomarker of drug-induced cell stress and subsequent apoptosis. Interestingly an increase of cytochrome c into the cytosol was also induced by EGCG. These multiple events are possibly associated with cell apoptosis. In conclusion, Raman micro-spectroscopy provides a complementary spectroscopic method to realize biological investigations on live cancer cells and to evaluate the effects of polyphenols at the subcellular level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-269
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2018

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