Characterization of Distinct Chondrogenic Cell Populations of Patients Suffering from Microtia Using Single-Cell Micro-Raman Spectroscopy
Microtia is a congenital condition of abnormal development of the outer ear. Tissue engineering of the ear is an alternative treatment option for microtia patients. However, for this approach, the identification of high regenerative cartilage progenitor cells is of vital importance. Raman analysis provides a novel, non-invasive, label-free diagnostic tool to detect distinctive biochemical features of single cells or tissues. Using micro-Raman spectroscopy, we were able to distinguish and characterize the particular molecular fingerprints of differentiated chondrocytes and perichondrocytes and their respective progenitors isolated from healthy individuals and microtia patients. We found that microtia chondrocytes exhibited lower lipid concentrations in comparison to healthy cells, thus indicating the importance of fat storage. Moreover, we suggest that collagen is a useful biomarker for distinguishing between populations obtained from the cartilage and perichondrium because of the higher spectral contributions of collagen in the chondrocytes compared to perichondrocytes from healthy individuals and microtia patients. Our results represent a contribution to the identification of cell markers that may allow the selection of specific cell populations for cartilage tissue engineering. Moreover, the observed differences between microtia and healthy cells are essential for gaining better knowledge of the cause of microtia. It can be useful for designing novel treatment options based on further investigations of the discovered biochemical substrate alterations.