Multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTS) have gained increasing attention in cancer research because they may closely mimic some physiological characteristics of solid tumors. MCTS have been considered as a useful three-dimensional cell model for evaluating the effect of exogenous molecules on tumor progression. However, little is known about the metabolic response in MCTS after exposure to exogenous molecules. Herein, we applied metabolomics combined with MALDI-mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) to investigate the proliferation of three-dimensional MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell spheroids treated with bisphenol S (BPS). MSI data revealed that BPS, a common environmental contaminant, penetrated MCTS in 5 min and gradually localized in the core of MCTS within 4 h. Metabolomic data demonstrated that BPS exposure induced significant changes in the levels of 28 metabolites that are involved in several pathways, including purine metabolism and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. The MSI results showed that three upregulated metabolites (ATP, ADP, and AMP) acting major roles in energy supply distributed in the proliferative zone of cell spheroids, further indicating the proliferative response of MDA-MB-231 cell spheroids caused by BPS exposure. One downregulated metabolite (xanthine) associated with reactive oxidative stress was found to localize toward the inner region of cell spheroids. These MSI results demonstrated that the increase of energy supply in the outer layer of cell spheroids might be responsible for BPS-induced proliferative response. Taken together, this integrated method might offer a more accurate and intuitive assessment for the effect of exogenous molecules on cancer progression.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Analytical Chemistry