Lipidomic comparison of 2D and 3D colon cancer cell culture models

Fernando Tobias, Amanda B. Hummon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Altered lipid metabolism is one of the hallmarks of cancer. Cellular proliferation and de novo synthesis of lipids are related to cancer progression. In this study, we evaluated the lipidomic profile of two-dimensional (2D) monolayer and multicellular tumor spheroids from the HCT 116 colon carcinoma cell line. We utilized serial trypsinization on the spheroid samples to generate three cellular populations representing the proliferative, quiescent, and necrotic regions of the spheroid. This analysis enabled a comprehensive identification and quantification of lipids produced in each of the spheroid layer and 2D cultures. We show that lipid subclasses associated with lipid droplets form in oxygen-restricted and acidic regions of spheroids and are produced at higher levels than in 2D cultures. Additionally, sphingolipid production, which is implicated in cell death and survival pathways, is higher in spheroids relative to 2D cells. Finally, we show that increased numbers of lipids composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are produced in the quiescent and necrotic regions of the spheroid. The lipidomic signature for each region and cell culture type highlights the importance of understanding the spatial aspects of cancer biology. These results provide additional lipid biomarkers in colon cancer cells that can be further studied to target pivotal lipid production pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4880
JournalJournal of Mass Spectrometry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • TME
  • acidosis
  • cancer
  • fatty acid/metabolism
  • hypoxia
  • lipid droplets
  • mass spectrometry
  • serial trypsinization
  • spheroids
  • triacylglycerol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Spectroscopy


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