Adulteration of milk for economic gains is a widespread issue throughout the developing world that can have far-reaching health and nutritional impacts. Milk analysis technologies, such as infrared spectroscopy, can screen for adulteration, but the cost of these technologies has prohibited their use in low resource settings. Recent developments in infrared and Raman spectroscopy hardware have led to commercially available low-cost devices. In this work, we evaluated the performance of two such spectrometers in detecting and quantifying the presence of milk adulterants. Five common adulterants – ammonium sulfate, melamine, sodium bicarbonate, sucrose, and urea, were spiked into five different raw cow and goat milk samples at different concentrations. Collected MIR and Raman spectra were analyzed using partial least squares regression. The limit of detection (LOD) for each adulterant was determined to be in the range of 0.04 to 0.28% (400 to 2800 ppm) using MIR spectroscopy. Raman spectroscopy showed similar LOD’s for some of the adulterants, notably those with strong amine group signals, and slightly higher LOD’s (up to 1.0%) for other molecules. Overall, the LODs were comparable to other spectroscopic milk analyzers on the market, and they were within the economically relevant concentration range of 100 to 4000 ppm. These lower cost spectroscopic devices therefore appear to hold promise for use in low resource settings.
Exosomes are small (~100nm) membrane bound vesicles excreted by cells as part of their normal biological processes. These extracellular vesicles are currently an area of intense research, since they were recently found to carry functional mRNA that allows transfer of proteins and other cellular instructions between cells. Exosomes have been implicated in a wide range of diseases, including cancer. Cancer cells are known to have increased exosome production, and may use those exosomes to prepare remote environments for metastasis. Therefore, there is a strong need to develop characterization methods to help understand the structure and function of these vesicles. However, current techniques, such as proteomics and genomics technologies, rely on aggregating a large amount of exosome material and reporting on chemical content that is averaged over many millions of exosomes. Here we report on the use of laser-tweezers Raman spectroscopy (LTRS) to probe individual vesicles, discovering distinct heterogeneity among exosomes both within a cell line, as well as between different cell lines. Through principal components analysis followed by hierarchical clustering, we have identified four “subpopulations” of exosomes shared across seven cell lines. The key chemical differences between these subpopulations, as determined by spectral analysis of the principal component loadings, are primarily related to membrane composition. Specifically, the differences can be ascribed to cholesterol content, cholesterol to phospholipid ratio, and surface protein expression. Thus, we have shown LTRS to be a powerful method to probe the chemical content of single extracellular vesicles.