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Microscale Mass Spectrometry Analysis of Extracellular Metabolites in Live Multicellular Tumor Spheroids

Sun, Mei, Tian, Xiang, Yang, Zhibo
Analytical chemistry 2017 v.89 no.17 pp. 9069-9076
antineoplastic agents, biomarkers, cell communication, drug resistance, ionization, lipids, mass spectrometry, metabolites, metastasis, neoplasm cells, neoplasms, silica
Extracellular compounds in tumors play critical roles in intercellular communication, tumor proliferation, and cancer cell metastasis. However, the lack of appropriate techniques leads to limited studies of extracellular metabolite. Here, we introduced a microscale collection device, the Micro-funnel, fabricated from biocompatible fused silica capillary. With a small probe size (∼25 μm), the Micro-funnel can be implanted into live multicellular tumor spheroids to accumulate the extracellular metabolites produced by cancer cells. Metabolites collected in the Micro-funnel device were then extracted by a microscale sampling and ionization device, the Single-probe, for real-time mass spectrometry (MS) analysis. We successfully detected the abundance change of anticancer drug irinotecan and its metabolites inside spheroids treated under a series of conditions. Moreover, we found that irinotecan treatment dramatically altered the composition of extracellular compounds. Specifically, we observed the increased abundances of a large number of lipids, which are potentially related to the drug resistance of cancer cells. This study provides a novel way to detect the extracellular compounds inside live spheroids, and the successful development of our technique can benefit the research in multiple areas, including the microenvironment inside live tissues, cell–cell communication, biomarker discovery, and drug development.