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Biomedical Applications of Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy

Biomedical Applications of Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy

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Metabolic fingerprinting in disease diagnosis: biomedical applications of infrared and Raman spectroscopy
David I. Ellis
and Royston Goodacre
Received 16th February 2006, Accepted 6th April 2006 First published as an Advance Article on the web 25th April 2006 
DOI: 10.1039/b602376m
The ability to diagnose the early onset of disease, rapidly, non-invasively and unequivocallyhas multiple benefits. These include the early intervention of therapeutic strategies leading to areduction in morbidity and mortality, and the releasing of economic resources within overburdenedhealth care systems. Some of the routine clinical tests currently in use are known to be unsuitable orunreliable. In addition, these often rely on single disease markers which are inappropriate whenmultiplefactorsareinvolved.Many diseasesare aresultofmetabolicdisorders,thereforeitislogicalto measure metabolism directly. One of the strategies employed by the emergent science of metabolomics is metabolic fingerprinting; which involves rapid, high-throughput global analysis todiscriminate between samples of different biological status or origin. This review focuses on aselective number of recent studies where metabolic fingerprinting has been forwarded as a potentialtool for disease diagnosis using infrared and Raman spectroscopies.
The ability to detect disease or dysfunction rapidly hasmanifold and obvious benefits, including early interventionof therapeutic strategies, hopefully in a prognostic fashion,significant reduction in mortality and morbidity, and thefreeing up of much needed economic resources within healthcare systems. In addition, the identification of some indicatorof disease could also be used to monitor the progressionof therapy. It is also acknowledged that some of the testscurrently in use associated with a number of diseases and/ordisorders are deemed unreliable, unsuitable or lack thespecificity required for routine use in clinical practice. Indeedin some areas there is certainly room for improvement in theearly diagnosis and proper identification and grading (quanti-tative severity) of several diseases. Probably one of the mostwell known of these is the prostate specific antigen (PSA) testfor prostate cancer, which has received much attention in theliterature in relation to its efficacy.
Indeed, whilst it isknown that the PSA test has resulted in an increase in prostatecancer detection, its routine use has been questioned due to alack of specificity
and there is an urgent need for a moresuitable test for this particular disease.One other example, where a multitude of tests currentlyexist for the detection of one disorder is pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy-specific multi-system disorder of poorly defined aetiology, which affects at least 3–5% of pregnancies and is a major cause of maternal mortality,perinatal mortality, pre-term birth, and intrauterine growthrestriction.
At present nearly 50 screening tests have beenproposed for pre-eclampsia. Although it has been reportedthat whether clinical, biophysical or biochemical in nature,
School of Chemistry, University of Manchester, Faraday Building,PO Box 88, Sackville Street, Manchester, UK M60 1QD.E-mail: D.Ellis@manchester.ac.uk; Roy.Goodacre@manchester.ac.uk 
Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester,131 Princess Street, Manchester, UK M1 7ND.E-mail: Roy.Goodacre@manchester.ac.uk; D.Ellis@manchester.ac.uk 
David I. Ellis
David I. Ellis obtained a BSc(Hons) in EnvironmentaScience and a microbiologyFT-IR based PhD, both fromthe University of WalesAberystwyth. He now worksas an Experimental Officer/ Laboratory Manager in Prof.Douglas Kell’s Bioanalytical Sciences Group (http:/dbkgroup.org/) at theManchester InterdisciplinaryBiocentre (MIB), TheUniversity of Manchester,on a variety of metabolomics-based projects.
Royston Goodacre
Roy Goodacre is Professor of Biological Chemistry at TheUniversity of Manchester. Theresearch group’s (http:// www.biospec.net/) interestsare broadly within bioanalyti-cal chemistry, and in the com-bination of a variety of modernspectroscopies (including MS,IR and Raman) and advanced chemometrics and machinelearning to the explanatoryanalysis of complex biological systems within a metabolomicsand proteomics context.
i-SECTION: CRITICAL REVIEW www.rsc.org/analyst
| The Analyst
 This journal is
 The Royal Society of Chemistry 2006
, 2006,
, 875–885
these tests have been inconsistent and contradictory, with themajority deemed to be unreliable or suitable for routine use inclinical practice.
Whilst the search continues for the optimumdiagnostic test for this particular disorder,
a very recentreport suggested that Fourier transform infrared spectroscopyhas considerable potential as a rapid high-throughput screen-ing method for pre-eclampsia.
It would therefore seem that other options should beconsidered for diagnostic testing or screening and perhaps amore ‘holistic’ approach adopted where suitable (and depen-dent upon the disease in question). Ideally, the method wouldbe rapid, reagent free, non-destructive, high-throughput,relatively inexpensive and require a minimal amount of background training. These requirements could be met by aspectroscopic approach.
Vibrational spectroscopy
With the requirements for a routine spectroscopic approachthat could be made portable and thus applicable to point of care medicine, infrared and Raman spectroscopies appear asobvious candidates. Below first gives details of the physico-chemical mechanisms of these approaches and their imple-mentation within disease diagnosis.
Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy
FT-IR spectroscopy is a well established
and constantlydeveloping analytical technique which allows for the rapid,high-throughput, non-destructive analysis of a wide range of sample types. FT-IR is based on the principle that when asample is interrogated with an infrared (IR) beam, thefunctional groups within the sample will absorb the infraredradiation (Fig. 1) and vibrate in one of a number of ways,either stretching, bending, deformation or combination vibra-tions.
These absorptions/vibrations can then be correlateddirectly to (bio)chemical species and the resultant infraredabsorption spectrum can be described as an infrared ‘finger-print’ characteristic of any chemical or biochemical substance.For most disease diagnoses researchers have concentratedon the mid-IR part of the spectrum (from 4000–600 cm
),because in contrast to near-IR (14000–4000 cm
) thefundamental vibration is seen rather than an overtone orharmonic. Thus the mid-IR spectra contains many sharp peaksand is very information rich. In biological terms the vibrationsin the wavenumber region 2800–3050 cm
, for example, canbe ascribed to CH
and CH
stretching vibrations from fattyacids, whilst those in the wavenumber region 1500–1750 cm
(the amide I and II bands) are ascribable to C
O, NH andC–N from proteins and peptides.
Whilst not as specific andsensitive as some techniques, such as GC-ToF-MS,
therapidity and reproducibility of FT-IR cannot be overstressedand due to its holistic nature it has been recognised as avaluable tool for metabolic fingerprinting/footprinting, owingto its ability to analyse carbohydrates, amino acids, fatty acids,lipids, proteins and polysaccharides simultaneously.
However, one potential disadvantage of FT-IR in themid-IR is that the absorption of water is very intense, butthis problem can be overcome in one of several ways such as;dehydration of samples, subtraction of the water signal, or byapplication of attenuated total reflectance (ATR).
In addition, another perceived disadvantage is that as aholistic measurement is made with biochemical informationspread across the whole of the IR spectrum, validated androbust chemometrics must be used in order to turn data intoinformation.
Raman spectroscopy
By contrast, Raman spectroscopy measures the
of energy with electromagnetic (EM) radiation of a particularwavelength (Fig. 1; usually a laser in the visible to mid-IR partof the EM). This exchange of energy results in a measurableRaman shift in the wavelength of the incident laser light (orwhat is also known as the inelastic light scattering effect);
this shift is complementary to IR absorption and one can alsoconstruct a Raman ‘fingerprint’ of the same sample (for typicalFT-IR and Raman spectra of human serum see Fig. 2). Forexample, in addition to observing peaks for Amide I and II inRaman spectroscopy the Amide III band at 1240–1300 cm
is also observed, which is attributable to secondary amidevibrations; in addition phenylalanine has a very strongvibration at
1005 cm
due to its benzene ring.
Fig. 1
Virtual energy levels for infrared and Raman spectroscopies.
Fig. 2
Typical FT-IR absorbance (A) and Raman (B) spectra of human serum.
, 2006,
, 875–885This journal is
 The Royal Society of Chemistry 2006
Unlike FT-IR, Raman spectroscopy does not suffer fromwater interference as water is a very weak scatterer. ThereforeRaman measurements can be made directly from biofluidsand there are even reports of 
in vivo
measurements fromthe bladder and prostate,
and arteries.
However, the Raman effect is veryweak and typically only 1 in 10
photons undergo aninelastic light scattering event; therefore collection times tendto be relatively long. In addition, Raman spectra collected witha visible laser from biological samples can often be plaguedwith fluorescence which, whilst much broader than the sharpRaman peaks, can dominate the spectra and often need to beremoved mathematically. The Raman signal can be enhancedby one of two methods. The first is based on resonanceenhancement and this occurs because the laser wavelengthused to excite the Raman spectrum lies under an intenseelectronic absorption band of a chromophore. When thisoccurs an enhancement of Raman scattering is observed sothat some of the band intensities are increased by a factor of 10
. As this method uses chromophores, resonanceRaman spectroscopy can be directed to certain chemicalspecies; for example in the deep UV, 227 nm is used to enhanceselectively aromatic amino acids, whilst 244 nm causesenhancement predominantly from nucleic acids.
Thesecond method of enhancement is that of surface enhancedRaman spectroscopy (SERS). In SERS one relies on either theadsorption or close proximity of an analyte to a metal sub-strate. The substrate can take the form of a roughened metalsurface, a colloidal solution or a roughened electrode.
Theenhancement is in the order of 10
, and can be combinedwith a chromophore to effect surface enhanced resonanceRaman spectroscopy (SERRS).
Multivariate data analysis
The result of FT-IR and Raman spectroscopy is either aninfrared absorbance spectrum (wavenumber
relativeabsorbance) or a Raman profile (wavenumber shift
photoncount). These contain many overlapping bands and so datainterpretation can not be made by simple visual inspection andalternative approaches are needed. Thus it is essential thatthese vibrational spectroscopic measurements are combinedwith any of the rapidly growing arsenal of multivariateanalysis strategies, in what appears to be the exponentialphase of computational bioanalysis.
Multivariate data such as those generated from an infraredor Raman experiment consist of the results of observations of many different variables (wavenumbers or wavenumber shifts)for a number of individuals (objects;
diseased or healthysubjects). Each variable may be regarded as constituting adifferent dimension, such that if there are
variables (IR orRaman bands) each object may be said to reside at a uniqueposition in an abstract entity referred to as
-dimensionalhyperspace. This hyperspace is necessarily difficult to visualise,and the underlying theme of multivariate analysis (MVA) is thus
or dimensionality reduction. This dimensionalityreduction occurs in one of two ways; either using an unsuper-vised or supervised learning algorithms. Please see Fig. 3 for asummary of the main methods and the following reviews.
In general unsupervised methods such as principal compo-nent analysis (PCA) and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA)are used to look at the ‘naturaldifferences and similaritiesbetween these spectra. For most infrared and Raman spectrathe number of observations (samples) in the analysis is verysmall compared to the number of variables (wavenumbers orwavenumber shifts), which may be 100s–1000s. In this casemultivariate analysis by PCA and HCA is most appropriate.These methods are employed to discover structure in thesedata and can be used to ‘clustersamples into groups byproducing scatter plots (PCA) and dendrograms (tree-likefigures; HCA).
By contrast, supervised methods likediscriminant analysis (DA) and artificial neural networks(ANNs) are ‘calibrated’ with some known answer fromexisting knowledge of the sample. That is to say, one set of spectra were generated from the serum of people with cancer,
another set of spectra from healthy age-matched,gender-matched
, controls. This
a priori 
knowledge is usedin the construction of the DA or ANN model, and musttherefore be correct else the model will not generalise well, andone is reminded of the adage ‘garbage in – garbage out’.
Thus one must suitably validate these methods.
Biological applications of vibrational spectroscopy
Within the biosciences, the applications of FT-IR have beennumerous and diverse. In the field of microbiology forexample, FT-IR has been used for the rapid and accurateidentification of bacteria to the sub-species level,
differentia-tion of clinically relevant species,
rapid enumerationof food spoilage bacteria
in situ
metabolicfootprinting of tryptophan-metabolism mutants
and discri-mination or identification of a range of bacterial genera,such as
However, during the last decade it has been recognised thatFT-IR, in combination with the appropriate multivariateanalysis strategies, has considerable potential as a metabolicfingerprinting tool for the rapid detection and diagnosis of disease or dysfunction, and indeed, a significant number of studies have been undertaken on tissues, cell and biofluids inan emergent area of research termed ‘infrared pathology’ byDiem and co-workers,
and now more commonly referred toas metabolic fingerprinting.
The remainder of this review willconcentrate on some of the many spectroscopic studiesundertaken thus far, related in the main to human disease,concerning analysis of cells, tissues and biofluids.Raman spectroscopy has charted similar areas, particularlywithin microbiology (for an excellent review see ref. 71). Theuse of resonance Raman spectroscopy in the deep UV was firstused by Nelson, Sperry and colleagues
in the early 1990sfor the characterization of bacteria. This approach has recentlybeen taken further with the development of suitable chemo-metric processing that have allowed for the identification of bacteria
and the effect of antibiotics on the bacterial cell.
Raman spectroscopy in the visible to mid-IR part of the EMspectrum has also been used for the characterization of microorganisms
including single cells.
Enhancementmethods based on surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy
 This journal is
 The Royal Society of Chemistry 2006
, 2006,
, 875–885

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