Document Type



This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only


1.6 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, Biochemistry and molecular biology, Reproductive biology Developmental biology

Publication Details

Molecules 2020, 25, 5554



Stem cell technology has attracted considerable attention over recent decades due to its enormous potential in regenerative medicine and disease therapeutics. Studying the underlying mechanisms of stem cell differentiation and tissue generation is critical, and robust methodologies and different technologies are required. Towards establishing improved understanding and optimised triggering and control of differentiation processes, analytical techniques such as flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, RNA in situ hybridisation analysis, and fluorescence-activated cell sorting have contributed much. However, progress in the field remains limited because such techniques provide only limited information, as they are only able to address specific, selected aspects of the process, and/or cannot visualise the process at the subcellular level. Additionally, many current analytical techniques involve the disruption of the investigation process (tissue sectioning, immunostaining) and cannot monitor the cellular differentiation process in situ, in real-time. Vibrational spectroscopy, as a label-free, non-invasive and non-destructive analytical technique, appears to be a promising candidate to potentially overcome many of these limitations as it can provide detailed biochemical fingerprint information for analysis of cells, tissues, and body fluids. The technique has been widely used in disease diagnosis and increasingly in stem cell technology. In this work, the efforts regarding the use of vibrational spectroscopy to identify mechanisms of stem cell differentiation at a single cell and tissue level are summarised. Both infrared absorption and Raman spectroscopic investigations are explored, and the relative merits, and future perspectives of the techniques are discussed.