Intrinsic fluorescence biomarkers in cells treated with chemopreventive drugs

Nathaniel D. Kirkpatrick, William R. Brands, Changping Zou, Molly A. Brewer, Urs Utzinger

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Non-invasive monitoring of cellular metabolism offers promising insights into areas ranging from biomarkers for drug activity to cancer diagnosis. Fluorescence spectroscopy can be utilized in order to exploit endogenous fluorophores, typically metabolic co-factors nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), and estimate the redox status of the sample. Fluorescence spectroscopy was applied to follow metabolic changes in epithelial ovarian cells as well as bladder epithelial cancer cells during treatment with a chemopreventive drug that initiates cellular quiescence. Fluorescence signals consistent with NADH, FAD, and tryptophan were measured to monitor cellular activity, redox status, and protein content. Cells were treated with varying concentrations of N-4-(hydroxyphenyl) retinamide (4-HPR) and measured in a stable environment with a sensitive fluorescence spectrometer. A subset of measurements was completed on a low concentration of cells to demonstrate feasibility for medical application such as in bladder or ovary washes. Results suggest that all of the cells responded with similar dose dependence but started at different estimated redox ratio baseline levels correlating with cell cycle, growth inhibition, and apoptosis assays. NADH and tryptophan related fluorescence changed significantly while FAD related fluorescence remained unaltered. Fluorescence data collected from approximately 1000 - 2000 cells, comparable to a bladder or ovary wash, was measurable and useful for future experiments. This study suggests that future intrinsic biomarker measurements may need to be most sensitive to changes in NADH and tryptophan related fluorescence while using FAD related fluorescence to help estimate the baseline redox ratio and predict response to chemopreventive agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number38
Pages (from-to)255-262
Number of pages8
JournalProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
StatePublished - 2005
EventImaging, Manipulation, and Analysis of Biomolecules and Cells: Fundamentals and Applications III - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 24 2005Jan 27 2005


  • Bladder cancer cells
  • Chemoprevention
  • Endogenous fluorescence
  • Ovarian cancer cells
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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