Insights into biochemical alteration in cancer-associated fibroblasts by using novel correlative spectroscopy

Saroj Kumar*, Xia Liu, Ferenc Borondics, Qunfeng Xiao, Renfei Feng, Erik Goormaghtigh, Fredrik Nikolajeff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


The microenvironment of a tumor changes chemically and morphologically during cancer progression. Cancer-stimulated fibroblasts promote tumor growth, however, the mechanism of the transition to a cancer-stimulated fibroblast remains elusive. Here, the multi-modal spectroscopic methods Fourier transform infrared imaging (FTIRI), X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and X-ray fluorescence imaging (XFI) are used to characterize molecular and atomic alterations that occur in cancer-stimulated fibroblasts. In addition to chemical changes in lipids (olefinic and acyl chain) and protein aggregation observed with FTIRI, a new infrared biomarker for oxidative stress in stimulated fibroblasts is reported. Oxidative stress is observed to cause lipid peroxidation, which leads to the appearance of a new band at 1721 cm−1, assigned to 4-hydroxynonenal. Complementary to FTIRI, XFI is well suited to determining atom concentrations and XAS can reveal the speciation of individual elements. XFI reveals increased concentrations of P, S, K, Ca within stimulated fibroblasts. Furthermore, XAS studies reveal alterations in the speciation of S and Ca in stimulated fibroblasts, which might provide insight into the mechanisms of cancer progression. Using XFI, not only is the concentration change of individual elements observed, but also the subcellular localization. This study demonstrates the wealth of biochemical information provided by a multi-modal imaging approach and highlights new avenues for future research into the microenvironment of breast tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-157
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

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