skip to main content

Title: Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) reveals spatial-metabolic changes in 3D breast cancer spheroids

Cancer cells are mechanically sensitive to physical properties of the microenvironment, which can affect downstream signaling to promote malignancy, in part through the modulation of metabolic pathways. Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) can be used to measure the fluorescence lifetime of endogenous fluorophores, such as the metabolic co-factors NAD(P)H and FAD, in live samples. We used multiphoton FLIM to investigate the changes in cellular metabolism of 3D breast spheroids derived from MCF-10A and MD-MB-231 cell lines embedded in collagen with varying densities (1 vs. 4 mg/ml) over time (Day 0 vs. Day 3). MCF-10A spheroids demonstrated spatial gradients, with the cells closest to the spheroid edge exhibiting FLIM changes consistent with a shift towards oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) while the spheroid core had changes consistent with a shift towards glycolysis. The MDA-MB-231 spheroids had a large shift consistent with increased OXPHOS with a more pronounced change at the higher collagen concentration. The MDA-MB-231 spheroids invaded into the collagen gel over time and cells that traveled the farthest had the largest changes consistent with a shift towards OXPHOS. Overall, these results suggest that the cells in contact with the extracellular matrix (ECM) and those that migrated the farthest had changes consistent with a metabolic shift towards OXPHOS. More generally, these results demonstrate the ability of multiphoton FLIM to characterize how spheroids metabolism and spatial metabolic gradients are modified by physical properties of the 3D ECM.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Nature Publishing Group
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Extracellular matrix (ECM) mechanical properties upregulate cancer invasion, cell contractility, and focal adhesion formation. Alteration in energy metabolism is a known characteristic of cancer cells (i.e., Warburg effect) and modulates cell invasion. There is little evidence to show if collagen density can alter cancer cell metabolism. We investigated changes in energy metabolism due to collagen density in five breast cell lines by measuring the fluorescence lifetime of NADH. We found that only triple-negative breast cancer cells, MDA-MB231 and MDA-MB468 cells, had an increased population of bound NADH, indicating an oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) signature, as collagen density decreased. When inhibiting ROCK and cell contractility, MDA-MB231 cells on glass shifted from glycolysis (GLY) to OXPHOS, confirming the intricate relationship between mechanosensing and metabolism. MCF10A cells showed less significant changes in metabolism, shifting towards GLY as collagen density decreased. The MCF-7 and T-47D, less invasive breast cancer cells, compared to the MDA-MB231 and MDA-MB468 cells, showed no changes regardless of substrate. In addition, OXPHOS or GLY inhibitors in MDA-MB231 cells showed dramatic shifts from OXPHOS to GLY orvice versa. These results provide an important link between cellular metabolism, contractility, and collagen density in human breast cancer.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract During the migration of cancer cells for metastasis, cancer cells can be exposed to fluid shear conditions. We examined two breast cancer cell lines, MDA-MB-468 (less metastatic) and MDA-MB-231 (more metastatic), and a benign MCF-10A epithelial cell line for their responsiveness in migration to fluid shear. We tested fluid shear at 15 dyne/cm2 that can be encountered during breast cancer cells traveling through blood vessels or metastasizing to mechanically active tissues such as bone. MCF-10A exhibited the least migration with a trend of migrating in the flow direction. Intriguingly, fluid shear played a potent role as a trigger for MDA-MB-231 cell migration, inducing directional migration along the flow with significantly increased displacement length and migration speed and decreased arrest coefficient relative to unflowed MDA-MB-231. In contrast, MDA-MB-468 cells were markedly less migratory than MDA-MB-231 cells, and responded very poorly to fluid shear. As a result, MDA-MB-468 cells did not exhibit noticeable difference in migration between static and flow conditions, as was distinct in root-mean-square (RMS) displacement—an ensemble average of all participating cells. These may suggest that the difference between more metastatic MDA-MB-231 and less metastatic MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells could be at least partly involved with their differential responsiveness to fluid shear stimulatory cues. Our study provides new data in regard to potential crosstalk between fluid shear and metastatic potential in mediating breast cancer cell migration. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract Breast cancer metastasis occurs via blood and lymphatic vessels. Breast cancer cells ‘educate’ lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) to support tumor vascularization and growth. However, despite known metabolic alterations in breast cancer, it remains unclear how lymphatic endothelial cell metabolism is altered in the tumor microenvironment and its effect in lymphangiogenic signaling in LECs. We analyzed metabolites inside LECs in co-culture with MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, and SK-BR-3 breast cancer cell lines using $$^1\hbox {H}$$ 1 H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabolomics, Seahorse, and the spatial distribution of metabolic co-enzymes using optical redox ratio imaging to describe breast cancer-LEC metabolic crosstalk. LECs co-cultured with breast cancer cells exhibited cell-line dependent altered metabolic profiles, including significant changes in lactate concentration in breast cancer co-culture. Cell metabolic phenotype analysis using Seahorse showed LECs in co-culture exhibited reduced mitochondrial respiration, increased reliance on glycolysis and reduced metabolic flexibility. Optical redox ratio measurements revealed reduced NAD(P)H levels in LECs potentially due to increased NAD(P)H utilization to maintain redox homeostasis. $$^{13}\hbox {C}$$ 13 C -labeled glucose experiments did not reveal lactate shuttling into LECs from breast cancer cells, yet showed other $$^{13}\hbox {C}$$ 13 C signals in LECs suggesting internalized metabolites and metabolic exchange between the two cell types. We also determined that breast cancer co-culture stimulated lymphangiogenic signaling in LECs, yet activation was not stimulated by lactate alone. Increased lymphangiogenic signaling suggests paracrine signaling between LECs and breast cancer cells which could have a pro-metastatic role. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Uncontrolled growth of tumor cells in confined spaces leads to the accumulation of compressive stress within the tumor. Although the effects of tension within 3D extracellular matrices (ECMs) on tumor growth and invasion are well established, the role of compression in tumor mechanics and invasion is largely unexplored. In this study, we modified a Transwell assay such that it provides constant compressive loads to spheroids embedded within a collagen matrix. We used microscopic imaging to follow the single cell dynamics of the cells within the spheroids, as well as invasion into the 3D ECMs. Our experimental results showed that malignant breast tumor (MDA-MB-231) and non-tumorigenic epithelial (MCF10A) spheroids responded differently to a constant compression. Cells within the malignant spheroids became more motile within the spheroids and invaded more into the ECM under compression; whereas cells within non-tumorigenic MCF10A spheroids became less motile within the spheroids and did not display apparent detachment from the spheroids under compression. These findings suggest that compression may play differential roles in healthy and pathogenic epithelial tissues and highlight the importance of tumor mechanics and invasion.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    High-throughput third-generation nanopore sequencing devices have enormous potential for simultaneously observing epigenetic modifications in human cells over large regions of the genome. However, signals generated by these devices are subject to considerable noise that can lead to unsatisfactory detection performance and hamper downstream analysis. Here we develop a statistical method, CpelNano, for the quantification and analysis of 5mC methylation landscapes using nanopore data. CpelNano takes into account nanopore noise by means of a hidden Markov model (HMM) in which the true but unknown (“hidden”) methylation state is modeled through an Ising probability distribution that is consistent with methylation means and pairwise correlations, whereas nanopore current signals constitute the observed state. It then estimates the associated methylation potential energy function by employing the expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm and performs differential methylation analysis via permutation-based hypothesis testing. Using simulations and analysis of published data obtained from three human cell lines (GM12878, MCF-10A, and MDA-MB-231), we show that CpelNano can faithfully estimate DNA methylation potential energy landscapes, substantially improving current methods and leading to a powerful tool for the modeling and analysis of epigenetic landscapes using nanopore sequencing data.

    more » « less