Preparation and analysis of In Vitro three dimensional breast carcinoma surrogates

Academic Article


  • Three dimensional (3D) culture is a more physiologically relevant method to model cell behavior in vitro than two dimensional culture. Carcinomas, including breast carcinomas, are complex 3D tissues composed of cancer epithelial cells and stromal components, including fibroblasts and extracellular matrix (ECM). Yet most in vitro models of breast carcinoma consist only of cancer epithelial cells, omitting the stroma and, therefore, the 3D architecture of a tumor in vivo. Appropriate 3D modeling of carcinoma is important for accurate understanding of tumor biology, behavior, and response to therapy. However, the duration of culture and volume of 3D models is limited by the availability of oxygen and nutrients within the culture. Herein, we demonstrate a method in which breast carcinoma epithelial cells and stromal fibroblasts are incorporated into ECM to generate a 3D breast cancer surrogate that includes stroma and can be cultured as a solid 3D structure or by using a perfusion bioreactor system to deliver oxygen and nutrients. Following setup and an initial growth period, surrogates can be used for preclinical drug testing. Alternatively, the cellular and matrix components of the surrogate can be modified to address a variety of biological questions. After culture, surrogates are fixed and processed to paraffin, in a manner similar to the handling of clinical breast carcinoma specimens, for evaluation of parameters of interest. The evaluation of one such parameter, the density of cells present, is explained, where ImageJ and CellProfiler image analysis software systems are applied to photomicrographs of histologic sections of surrogates to quantify the number of nucleated cells per area. This can be used as an indicator of the change in cell number over time or the change in cell number resulting from varying growth conditions and treatments.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Goliwas KF; Miller LM; Marshall LE; Berry JL; Frost AR
  • Volume

  • 2016
  • Issue

  • 111