Novel three-dimensional cultures provide insights into thyroid cancer behavior.
ABSTRACT: Thyroid cancer has the fastest growing incidence of any cancer in the United States, as measured by the number of new cases per year. Despite advances in tissue culture techniques, a robust model for thyroid cancer spheroid culture is yet to be developed. Using eight established thyroid cancer cell lines, we created an efficient and cost-effective 3D culture system that can enhance our understanding of in vivo treatment response. We found that all eight cell lines readily form spheroids in culture with unique morphology, size, and cytoskeletal organization. In addition, we developed a high-throughput workflow that allows for drug screening of spheroids. Using this approach, we found that spheroids from K1 and TPC1 cells demonstrate significant differences in their sensitivities to dabrafenib treatment that closely model expected patient drug response. In addition, K1 spheroids have increased sensitivity to dabrafenib when compared to monolayer K1 cultures. Utilizing traditional 2D cultures of these cell lines, we evaluated the mechanisms of this drug response, showing dramatic and acute changes in their actin cytoskeleton as well as inhibition of migratory behavior in response to dabrafenib treatment. Our study is the first to describe the development of a robust spheroid system from established cultured thyroid cancer cell lines and adaptation to a high-throughput format. We show that combining 3D culture with traditional 2D methods provides a complementary and powerful approach to uncover drug sensitivity and mechanisms of inhibition in thyroid cancer.
Project description:The prognosis of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients is poor. One of the reasons for this hampered progress has been a lack of in vitro models that would faithfully recapitulate the heterogeneity of tumors and response to treatment. In this study, surgically resected tumors were obtained from patients with stage I/II NSCLC during curative-intent surgery. Using a 3D patient-derived tumor spheroids culture system, our results demonstrate successful long-term expansion of primary NSCLC cells in vitro (> 120 days). Patient-derived tumor spheroid (PDS) cultures could be established with a success rate of 100% (3 out of 3 samples). Consistent with their growth in culture and their cancer type, many cells within the tumor spheroids were stained positive for Ki67 and thyroid transcription factor-1. The result of this study supports the establishment of an expandable 3D in vitro NSCLC model for drug screening, and enables the potential long term studies such as the establishment of drug resistant models.
Project description:Three-dimensional (3D) cell culture is gaining acceptance in response to the need for cellular models that better mimic physiologic tissues. Spheroids are one such 3D model where clusters of cells will undergo self-assembly to form viable, 3D tumor-like structures. However, to date little is known about how spheroid biology compares to that of the more traditional and widely utilized 2D monolayer cultures. Therefore, the goal of this study was to characterize the phenotypic and functional differences between lung tumor cells grown as 2D monolayer cultures, versus cells grown as 3D spheroids. Eight lung tumor cell lines, displaying varying levels of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and cMET protein expression, were used to develop a 3D spheroid cell culture model using low attachment U-bottom plates. The 3D spheroids were compared with cells grown in monolayer for 1) EGFR and cMET receptor expression, as determined by flow cytometry, 2) EGFR and cMET phosphorylation by MSD assay, and 3) cell proliferation in response to epidermal growth factor (EGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). In addition, drug responsiveness to EGFR and cMET inhibitors (Erlotinib, Crizotinib, Cetuximab [Erbitux] and Onartuzumab [MetMab]) was evaluated by measuring the extent of cell proliferation and migration. Data showed that EGFR and cMET expression is reduced at day four of untreated spheroid culture compared to monolayer. Basal phosphorylation of EGFR and cMET was higher in spheroids compared to monolayer cultures. Spheroids showed reduced EGFR and cMET phosphorylation when stimulated with ligand compared to 2D cultures. Spheroids showed an altered cell proliferation response to HGF, as well as to EGFR and cMET inhibitors, compared to monolayer cultures. Finally, spheroid cultures showed exceptional utility in a cell migration assay. Overall, the 3D spheroid culture changed the cellular response to drugs and growth factors and may more accurately mimic the natural tumor microenvironment.
Project description:New successful anti-cancer strategies are based on the stimulation of immune reaction against tumors: however, preclinical testing of such treatments is still a challenge. To improve the screening of anti-cancer drugs, three-dimensional (3D) culture systems, including spheroids, have been validated as preclinical models. We propose the spheroid 3D system to test anti-tumor drug-induced immune responses. We show that colorectal carcinoma (CRC) spheroids, generated with the epithelial growth factor (EGF), can be co-cultured with V?2 T cells to evaluate the anti-tumor activity of these effector lymphocytes. By computerized image analysis, the precise and unbiased measure of perimeters and areas of tumor spheroids is achievable, beside the calculation of their volume. CRC spheroid size is related to ATP content and cell number, as parameters for cell metabolism and proliferation; in turn, crystal violet staining can check the viability of cells inside the spheroids to detect tumor killing by V?2 T cells. In this 3D cultures, we tested (a) zoledronate that is known to activate V?2 T cells and (b) the therapeutic anti-EGF receptor humanized antibody cetuximab that can elicit the antibody-dependent cytotoxicity of tumor cells by effector lymphocytes. Zoledronate triggers V?2 T cells to kill and degrade CRC spheroids; we detected the T-cell receptor dependency of zoledronate effect, conceivably due to the recognition of phosphoantigens produced as a drug effect on target cell metabolism. In addition, cetuximab triggered V?2 T lymphocytes to exert the antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity of CRC spheroids. Finally, the system reveals differences in the sensitivity of CRC cell lines to the action of V?2 T lymphocytes and in the efficiency of anti-tumor effectors from distinct donors. A limitation of this model is the absence of cells, including fibroblasts, that compose tumor microenvironment and influence drug response. Nevertheless, the system can be improved by setting mixed spheroids, made of stromal and cancer cells. We conclude that this type of spheroid 3D culture is a feasible and reliable system to evaluate and measure anti-tumor drug-induced immune responses beside direct anti-cancer drug effect.
Project description:Tumor spheroids are three-dimensional clusters of cancer cells that exhibit characteristics of poorly perfused tumors and hence present a relevant model for testing the efficacy of anti-cancer compounds. The use of spheroids for drug screening is hindered by technological complexities for high throughput generation of consistent size spheroids individually addressable by drug compounds. Here we present and optimize a simple spheroid technology based on the use of an aqueous two-phase system. Cancer cells confined in a drop of the denser aqueous dextran phase are robotically dispensed into a microwell containing the immersion aqueous polyethylene glycol phase. Cells remain within the drop and form a viable spheroid, without a need for any external stimuli. The size of resulting spheroids is sensitive to volume variations of dispensed drops from the air displacement pipetting head of a commercial liquid handling robot. Therefore, we parametrically optimize the process of dispensing of dextran phase drops. For a given cell density, this optimization reproducibly generates consistent size spheroids in standard 96-well plates. In addition, we evaluate the use of a commercial biochemical assay to examine cellular viability of cancer cell spheroids. Spheroids show a dose-dependent response to cisplatin similar to a monolayer culture. However unlike their two-dimensional counterpart, spheroids exhibit resistance to paclitaxel treatment. This technology, which uses only commercially-available reagents and equipment, can potentially expedite anti-cancer drug discovery. Although the use of robotics makes the ATPS spheroid technology particularly useful for drug screening applications, this approach is compatible with simpler liquid handling techniques such as manual micropipetting and offers a straightforward method of 3D cell culture in research laboratories.
Project description:Traditionally, two-dimensional (2D) monolayer cell culture models have been used to study in vitro conditions for their ease of use, simplicity and low cost. However, recently, three-dimensional (3D) cell culture models have been heavily investigated as they provide better physiological relevance for studying various disease behaviors, cellular activity and pharmaceutical interactions. Typically, small-sized tumor spheroid models (100-500 ?m) are used to study various biological and physicochemical activities. Larger, millimetric spheroid models are becoming more desirable for simulating native tumor microenvironments (TMEs). Here, we assess the use of ultra-large spheroid models (~2000 ?m) generated from scaffolds made from a nozzle-free, ultra-high resolution printer; these models are explored for assessing chemotherapeutic responses with molecular doxorubicin (DOX) and two analogues of Doxil? (Dox-NP?, DoxovesTM) on MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines. To provide a comparative baseline, small spheroid models (~500 ?m) were developed using a self-aggregation method of MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines, and underwent similar drug treatments. Analysis of both large and small MCF-7 spheroids revealed that Dox-NP tends to have the highest level of inhibition, followed by molecular doxorubicin and then Doxoves. The experimental advantages and drawbacks of using these types of ultra-large spheroids for cancer research are discussed.
Project description:In this study, the effect of spheroid formation, as a model of three-dimensional (3D) culture systems, on the cancer stemness of human breast cancer (MCF-7) and human glioma (U87-MG) cell lines was analyzed. We compared the expression of pluripotency genes, the presence of various cancer stem cell populations, migration and proliferation capacities of cells cultured as monolayers or spheroids. MCF-7 cells formed uniform spheroids in vitro, upregulated the expression of stem cell markers both at gene and protein levels and increased their migration capacities when cultured in 3D systems. When a CSC targeting metabolic drug, metformin was used, multiple drug resistance genes (ABC transporters) were downregulated and the anti-cancer activity of 5-fluorouracil was enhanced. In summary, this study proved that the use of 3D culture systems such as spheroids can be used in CSC-related research. Therefore, studies involving 3D culture systems will help scientists to discover new CSC markers, show more realistic drug responses, and better evaluate tumor proliferation and morphology changes.
Project description:Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy in North America, underscoring the need for the development of new therapeutic strategies for the management of this disease. Although many drugs are pre-clinically tested every year, only a few are selected to be evaluated in clinical trials, and only a small number of these are successfully incorporated into standard care. Inaccuracies with the initial in vitro drug testing may be responsible for some of these failures. Drug testing is often performed using 2D monolayer cultures or 3D spheroid models. Here, we investigate the impact that these different in vitro models have on the carboplatin response of four EOC cell lines, and in particular how different 3D models (polydimethylsiloxane-based microfluidic chips and ultra low attachment plates) influence drug sensitivity within the same cell line. Our results show that carboplatin responses were observed in both the 3D spheroid models tested using apoptosis/cell death markers by flow cytometry. Contrary to previously reported observations, these were not associated with a significant decrease in spheroid size. For the majority of the EOC cell lines (3 out of 4) a similar carboplatin response was observed when comparing both spheroid methods. Interestingly, two cell lines classified as resistant to carboplatin in 2D cultures became sensitive in the 3D models, and one sensitive cell line in 2D culture showed resistance in 3D spheroids. Our results highlight the challenges of choosing the appropriate pre-clinical models for drug testing.
Project description:The enhanced predictive power of 3D multi-cellular spheroids in comparison to conventional monolayer cultures makes them a promising drug screening tool. However, clinical translation for pharmacology and toxicology is lagging its technological progression. Even though spheroids show a biological complexity resembling native tissue, standardization and validation of drug screening protocols are influenced by continuously changing physiological parameters during spheroid formation. Such cellular heterogeneities impede the comparability of drug efficacy studies and toxicological screenings. In this paper, we demonstrated that aside from already well-established physiological parameters, spheroidal age is an additional critical parameter that impacts drug diffusivity and toxicity in 3D cell culture models. HepG2 spheroids were generated and maintained on a self-assembled ultra-low attachment nanobiointerface and characterized regarding time-dependent changes in morphology, functionality as well as anti-cancer drug resistance. We demonstrated that spheroidal aging directly influences drug response due to the evolution of spheroid micro-structure and organo-typic functions, that alter inward diffusion, thus drug uptake.
Project description:There is an increasing interest in using three-dimensional (3D) spheroids for modeling cancer and tissue biology to accelerate translation research. Development of higher throughput assays to quantify phenotypic changes in spheroids is an active area of investigation. The goal of this study was to develop higher throughput high-content imaging and analysis methods to characterize phenotypic changes in human cancer spheroids in response to compound treatment. We optimized spheroid cell culture protocols using low adhesion U-bottom 96- and 384-well plates for three common cancer cell lines and improved the workflow with a one-step staining procedure that reduces assay time and minimizes variability. We streamlined imaging acquisition by using a maximum projection algorithm that combines cellular information from multiple slices through a 3D object into a single image, enabling efficient comparison of different spheroid phenotypes. A custom image analysis method was implemented to provide multiparametric characterization of single-cell and spheroid phenotypes. We report a number of readouts, including quantification of marker-specific cell numbers, measurement of cell viability and apoptosis, and characterization of spheroid size and shape. Assay performance was assessed using established anticancer cytostatic and cytotoxic drugs. We demonstrated concentration-response effects for different readouts and measured IC50 values, comparing 3D spheroid results to two-dimensional cell cultures. Finally, a library of 119 approved anticancer drugs was screened across a wide range of concentrations using HCT116 colon cancer spheroids. The proposed methods can increase performance and throughput of high-content assays for compound screening and evaluation of anticancer drugs with 3D cell models.
Project description:Even though in vitro co-culture tumor spheroid model plays an important role in screening drug candidates, its wide applications are currently limited due to the lack of reliable and high throughput methods for generating well-defined and 3D complex co-culture structures. Herein, we report the development of a hydrogel microwell array to generate uniform-sized multicellular tumor spheroids. Our developed multicellular tumor spheroids are structurally well-defined, robust and can be easily transferred into the widely used 2D culture substrates while maintaining our designed multicellular 3D-sphere structures. Moreover, to develop effective anti-cancer therapeutics we integrated our recently developed gold-graphene hybrid nanomaterial (Au@GO)-based photothermal cancer therapy into a series of multicellular tumor spheroid co-culture system. The multicellular tumor spheroids were harvested onto a two-dimensional (2D) substrate, under preservation of their three-dimensional (3D) structure, to evaluate the photothermal therapy effectiveness of graphene oxide (GO)-wrapped gold nanoparticles (Au@GO). From the model of co-culture spheroids of HeLa/Ovarian cancer and HeLa/human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC), we observed that Au@GO nanoparticles displayed selectivity towards the fast-dividing HeLa cells, which could not be observed to this extent in 2D cultures. Overall, our developed uniform-sized 3D multicellular tumor spheroid could be a powerful tool for anticancer drug screening applications.