Javier Plou, Isabel García, Mathias Charconnet, Ianire Astobiza, Clara García‐Astrain, Cristiano Matricardi, Agustín Mihi, Arkaitz Carracedo, Luis M. Liz‐Marzán. Adv. Funct. Mater.2020, 1910335.
The composition and intercellular interactions of tumor cells in the tissues dictate the biochemical and metabolic properties of the tumor microenvironment. The metabolic rewiring has a profound impact on the properties of the microenvironment, to an extent that monitoring such perturbations could harbor diagnostic and therapeutic relevance. A growing interest in these phenomena has inspired the development of novel technologies with sufficient sensitivity and resolution to monitor metabolic alterations in the tumor microenvironment. In this context, surface‐enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) can be used for the label‐free detection and imaging of diverse molecules of interest among extracellular components. Herein, the application of nanostructured plasmonic substrates comprising Au nanoparticles, self‐assembled as ordered superlattices, to the precise SERS detection of selected tumor metabolites, is presented. The potential of this technology is first demonstrated through the analysis of kynurenine, a secreted immunomodulatory derivative of the tumor metabolism and the related molecules tryptophan and purine derivatives. SERS facilitates the unambiguous identification of trace metabolites and allows the multiplex detection of their characteristic fingerprints under different conditions. Finally, the effective plasmonic SERS substrate is combined with a hydrogel‐based three‐dimensional cancer model, which recreates the tumor microenvironment, for the real‐time imaging of metabolite alterations and cytotoxic effects on tumor cells.