Metabolic fingerprinting by nuclear magnetic resonance of hepatocellular carcinoma cells during p53 reactivation-induced senescence

Philipp Knopf, Jesus Pacheco-Torres, Laimdota Zizmare, Noriko Mori, Flonne Wildes, Benyuan Zhou, Balaji Krishnamachary, Yelena Mironchik, Manfred Kneilling, Christoph Trautwein, Bernd J. Pichler, Zaver M. Bhujwalla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cellular senescence is characterized by stable cell cycle arrest. Senescent cells exhibit a senescence-associated secretory phenotype that can promote tumor progression. The aim of our study was to identify specific nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy-based markers of cancer cell senescence. For metabolic studies, we employed murine liver carcinoma Harvey Rat Sarcoma Virus (H-Ras) cells, in which reactivation of p53 expression induces senescence. Senescent and nonsenescent cell extracts were subjected to high-resolution proton (1H)-NMR spectroscopy-based metabolomics, and dynamic metabolic changes during senescence were analyzed using a magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)-compatible cell perfusion system. Additionally, the ability of intact senescent cells to degrade the extracellular matrix (ECM) was quantified in the cell perfusion system. Analysis of senescent H-Ras cell extracts revealed elevated sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, myoinositol, taurine, and creatine levels, with decreases in glycine, o-phosphocholine, threonine, and valine. These metabolic findings were accompanied by a greater degradation index of the ECM in senescent H-Ras cells than in control H-Ras cells. MRS studies with the cell perfusion system revealed elevated creatine levels in senescent cells on Day 4, confirming the 1H-NMR results. These senescence-associated changes in metabolism and ECM degradation strongly impact growth and redox metabolism and reveal potential MRS signals for detecting senescent cancer cells in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNMR in biomedicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • MR spectroscopy
  • cellular homeostasis
  • metabolomics
  • p53
  • senescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Spectroscopy


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