Theranostics 2021; 11(10):4872-4893. doi:10.7150/thno.56409 This issue


Recent progress of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy for subcellular compartment analysis

Yanting Shen1,2, Jing Yue1, Weiqing Xu1, Shuping Xu1,3✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Supramolecular Structure and Materials, Institute of Theoretical Chemistry, College of Chemistry, Jilin University, Changchun 130012, People's Republic of China.
2. School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Key Laboratory of Innovative Drug Development and Evaluation, Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang, 050017, China.
3. Department of Molecular Sciences, ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales 2109, Australia.

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Shen Y, Yue J, Xu W, Xu S. Recent progress of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy for subcellular compartment analysis. Theranostics 2021; 11(10):4872-4893. doi:10.7150/thno.56409. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Organelles are involved in many cell life activities, and their metabolic or functional disorders are closely related to apoptosis, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and the development and metastasis of cancers. The explorations of subcellular structures, microenvironments, and their abnormal conditions are conducive to a deeper understanding of many pathological mechanisms, which are expected to achieve the early diagnosis and the effective therapy of diseases. Organelles are also the targeted locations of drugs, and they play significant roles in many targeting therapeutic strategies. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a powerful analytical tool that can provide the molecular fingerprint information of subcellular compartments and the real-time cellular dynamics in a non-invasive and non-destructive way. This review aims to summarize the recent advances of SERS studies on subcellular compartments, including five parts. The introductions of SERS and subcellular compartments are given. SERS is promising in subcellular compartment studies due to its molecular specificity and high sensitivity, and both of which highly match the high demands of cellular/subcellular investigations. Intracellular SERS is mainly cataloged as the labeling and label-free methods. For subcellular targeted detections and therapies, how to internalize plasmonic nanoparticles or nanostructure in the target locations is a key point. The subcellular compartment SERS detections, SERS measurements of isolated organelles, investigations of therapeutic mechanisms from subcellular compartments and microenvironments, and integration of SERS diagnosis and treatment are sequentially presented. A perspective view of the subcellular SERS studies is discussed from six aspects. This review provides a comprehensive overview of SERS applications in subcellular compartment researches, which will be a useful reference for designing the SERS-involved therapeutic systems.

Keywords: organelles, SERS, label, label-free, subcellular analysis