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    Spatially resolved metabolomics offers unprecedented opportunities for elucidating metabolic mechanisms during cancer progression. It facilitated the discovery of aberrant cellular metabolism with clinical application potential. Here, we developed a novel strategy to discover cancer tissue relevant metabolic signatures by high spatially resolved metabolomics combined with a multicellular tumor spheroid (MCTS) in vitro model. Esophageal cancer MCTS were generated using KYSE-30 human esophageal cancer cells to fully mimic the 3D microenvironment under physiological conditions. Then, the spatial features and temporal variation of metabolites and metabolic pathways in MCTS were accurately mapped by using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI) with a spatial resolution at ∼12 μm. Metabolites, such as glutamate, tyrosine, inosine and various types of lipids displayed heterogeneous distributions in different microregions inside the MCTS, revealing the metabolic heterogenicity of cancer cells under different proliferative states. Subsequently, through joint analysis of metabolomic data of clinical cancer tissue samples, cancer tissue relevant metabolic signatures in esophageal cancer MCTS were identified, including glutamine metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, de novo synthesis phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), etc. In addition, the abnormal expression of the involved metabolic enzymes, i.e., GLS, FASN, CHKA and cPLA2, was further confirmed and showed similar tendencies in esophageal cancer MCTS and cancer tissues. The MALDI-MSI combined with MCTS approach offers molecular insights into cancer metabolism with real-word relevance, which would potentially benefit the biomarker discovery and metabolic mechanism studies. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


    Qingce Zang, Chenglong Sun, Xiaoping Chu, Limei Li, Wenqiang Gan, Zitong Zhao, Yongmei Song, Jiuming He, Ruiping Zhang, Zeper Abliz. Spatially resolved metabolomics combined with multicellular tumor spheroids to discover cancer tissue relevant metabolic signatures. Analytica chimica acta. 2021 Apr 22;1155:338342

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    PMID: 33766316

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