Real-time surface-enhanced Raman scattering-based live cell monitoring of the changes in mitochondrial membrane potential

Ji Hye Lee, Hyeon Jeong Shin, Yong Duk Kim, Dong Kwon Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Obtaining molecular information on cells in real time has been a critical challenge in studying the interaction between molecules of interest and intracellular components. Fluorescence-based methods have long served as excellent tools to study such important interactions. In this paper, we introduce a Raman scattering-based method as a promising platform to achieve the real-time monitoring of subtle molecular changes occurring within cells. We found that the Raman scattering-based method enabled monitoring changes in the mitochondrial membrane potential at the single-cell level in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts induced by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) protein, various chemicals (MgCl2, FCCP, and sodium pyruvate), and a non-chemical stimulus (i.e., light). The triphenylphosphine-modified gold nanoparticles were selectively localized in the mitochondria and showed the characteristic Raman spectrum of cytochrome C and other Raman spectra of molecular components inside the cell. The surface-enhanced Raman spectrum originating from mitochondria was sensitively changed over time when mitochondrial depolarization was induced by the addition of TNF-α, or chemicals known to induce mitochondrial depolarization. The Raman-based signal changes were well matched with results of the conventional fluorescence-based analysis. However, in contrast to the conventional approach, the Raman-based method enables monitoring such changes in real time and provides detailed molecular information in terms of the interaction of molecules. Therefore, these results highlight the possibility of surface-enhanced Raman scattering-based live cell analysis for future proteomics or drug-screening applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3470-3480
Number of pages11
JournalNanoscale Advances
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun 21

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (2017M3D1A1039421 and 2018R1A2A3075499), Korea University, and the KU-KIST Research Fund.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2021.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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