Three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures represent fundamental tools for the comprehension of cellular phenomena both in normal and in pathological conditions. In particular, mechanical and chemical stimuli play a relevant role on cell fate, cancer onset and malignant evolution. Here, we use mechanically-tuned alginate hydrogels to study the role of substrate elasticity on breast adenocarcinoma cell activity. The hydrogel elastic modulus (E) was measured via atomic force microscopy (AFM) and a remarkable range (150-4000 kPa) was obtained. A breast cancer cell line, MCF-7, was seeded within the 3D gels, on standard Petri and alginate-coated dishes (2D controls). Cells showed dramatic morphological differences when cultured in 3D versus 2D, exhibiting a flat shape in both 2D conditions, while maintaining a circular, spheroid-organized (cluster) conformation within the gels, similar to those in vivo. Moreover, we observed a strict correlation between cell viability and substrate elasticity; in particular, the number of MCF-7 cells decreased constantly with increasing hydrogel elasticity. Remarkably, the highest cellular proliferation rate, associated with the formation of cell clusters, occurred at two weeks only in the softest hydrogels (E = 150-200 kPa), highlighting the need to adopt more realistic and a priori defined models for in vitro cancer studies.

Microenvironment complexity and matrix stiffness regulate breast cancer cell activity in a 3D in vitro model

CAVO, MARTA MARIA;FATO, MARCO MASSIMO;BELTRAME, FRANCESCO;RAITERI, ROBERTO;SCAGLIONE, SILVIA
2016-01-01

Abstract

Three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures represent fundamental tools for the comprehension of cellular phenomena both in normal and in pathological conditions. In particular, mechanical and chemical stimuli play a relevant role on cell fate, cancer onset and malignant evolution. Here, we use mechanically-tuned alginate hydrogels to study the role of substrate elasticity on breast adenocarcinoma cell activity. The hydrogel elastic modulus (E) was measured via atomic force microscopy (AFM) and a remarkable range (150-4000 kPa) was obtained. A breast cancer cell line, MCF-7, was seeded within the 3D gels, on standard Petri and alginate-coated dishes (2D controls). Cells showed dramatic morphological differences when cultured in 3D versus 2D, exhibiting a flat shape in both 2D conditions, while maintaining a circular, spheroid-organized (cluster) conformation within the gels, similar to those in vivo. Moreover, we observed a strict correlation between cell viability and substrate elasticity; in particular, the number of MCF-7 cells decreased constantly with increasing hydrogel elasticity. Remarkably, the highest cellular proliferation rate, associated with the formation of cell clusters, occurred at two weeks only in the softest hydrogels (E = 150-200 kPa), highlighting the need to adopt more realistic and a priori defined models for in vitro cancer studies.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/853240
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