Glycosylation spectral signatures for glioma grade discrimination using Raman spectroscopy

Agathe Quesnel, Nathan Coles, Claudio Angione, Priyanka Dey, Tuomo M. Polvikoski, Tiago F. Outeiro, Meez Islam, Ahmad A. Khundakar, Panagiota S. Filippou

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Background: Gliomas are the most common brain tumours with the high-grade glioblastoma representing the most aggressive and lethal form. Currently, there is a lack of specific glioma biomarkers that would aid tumour subtyping and minimally invasive early diagnosis. Aberrant glycosylation is an important post-translational modification in cancer and is implicated in glioma progression. Raman spectroscopy (RS), a vibrational spectroscopic label-free technique, has already shown promise in cancer diagnostics.

Methods: RS was combined with machine learning to discriminate glioma grades. Raman spectral signatures of glycosylation patterns were used in serum samples and fixed tissue biopsy samples, as well as in single cells and spheroids.

Results: Glioma grades in fixed tissue patient samples and serum were discriminated with high accuracy. Discrimination between higher malignant glioma grades (III and IV) was achieved with high accuracy in tissue, serum, and cellular models using single cells and spheroids. Biomolecular changes were assigned to alterations in glycosylation corroborated by analysing glycan standards and other changes such as carotenoid antioxidant content.

Conclusion: RS combined with machine learning could pave the way for more objective and less invasive grading of glioma patients, serving as a useful tool to facilitate glioma diagnosis and delineate biomolecular glioma progression changes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number174
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2023


  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Gliomas
  • Biomolecular signatures
  • Diagnosis
  • Glioblastoma
  • Glycosylation

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