Open-channel microfluidic membrane device for long-term FT-IR spectromicroscopy of live adherent cells

Kevin Loutherback, Liang Chen, Hoi Ying N. Holman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Spatially resolved infrared spectroscopy is a label-free and nondestructive analytical technique that can provide spatiotemporal information on functional groups in biomolecules of a sample by their characteristic vibrational modes. One difficulty in performing long-term FT-IR measurements on live cells is the competition between the strong IR absorption from water and the need to supply nutrients and remove waste. In this proof of principle study, we developed an open-channel membrane device that allows long-term continuous IR measurement of live, adherent mammalian cells. Composed of a gold-coated porous membrane between a feeding channel and a viewing chamber, it allows cells to be maintained on the upper membrane surface in a thin layer of fluid while media is replenished from the feeding channel below. Using this device, we monitored the spatiotemporal chemical changes in living colonies of PC12 cells under nerve growth factor (NGF) stimulation for up to 7 days using both conventional globar and high-resolution synchrotron radiation-based IR sources. We identified the primary chemical change cells undergo is an increase in glycogen that may be associated with secretion of glycoprotein to protect the cells from evaporative stress at the air-liquid interface. Analyzing the spectral maps with multivariate methods of hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and principal component analysis (PCA), we found that the cells at the boundary of the colony and in a localized region in the center of the colony tend to produce more glycogen and glycoprotein than cells located elsewhere in the colony and that the degree of spatial heterogeneity decreases with time. This method provides a promising approach for long-term live-cell spectromicroscopy on mammalian cell systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4601-4606
Number of pages6
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 5 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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