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In cancer research and drug screening, multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTSs) are a popular model to bridge the gap between in vitro and in vivo. However, the current techniques to culture mixed co-culture MCTSs do not mimic the structural architecture and cellular spatial distribution in solid tumors. In this study we present an acoustic trapping-based core-shell MCTSs culture method using sequential seeding of the core and shell cells into microwells coated with a protein repellent coating. Scaffold-free core-shell ovarian cancer OVCAR-8 cell line MCTSs were cultured, stained, cleared and confocally imaged on-chip. Image analysis techniques were used to quantify the shell thickness (23.2 ± 1.8 µm) and shell coverage percentage (91.2 ± 2.8%). We also show that the shell thickness was evenly distributed over the MCTS cores with the exception of being slightly thinner close to the microwell bottom. This scaffold-free core-shell MCTSs formation technique and the analysis tools presented herein could be used as an internal migration assay within the MCTS or to form core-shell MCTS co-cultures to study therapy response or the interaction between tumor and stromal cells.


Karl Olofsson, Valentina Carannante, Madoka Takai, Björn Önfelt, Martin Wiklund. Ultrasound-Based Scaffold-Free Core-Shell Multicellular Tumor Spheroid Formation. Micromachines. 2021 Mar 20;12(3)

PMID: 33804708

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