Opportunities and challenges for use of tumor spheroids as models to test drug delivery and efficacy

Department of Periodontics & Oral Medicine, University of Michigan School of Dentistry, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2099, United States.
Journal of Controlled Release (Impact Factor: 7.71). 05/2012; 164(2). DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2012.04.045
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Multicellular spheroids are three dimensional in vitro microscale tissue analogs. The current article examines the suitability of spheroids as an in vitro platform for testing drug delivery systems. Spheroids model critical physiologic parameters present in vivo, including complex multicellular architecture, barriers to mass transport, and extracellular matrix deposition. Relative to two-dimensional cultures, spheroids also provide better target cells for drug testing and are appropriate in vitro models for studies of drug penetration. Key challenges associated with creation of uniformly sized spheroids, spheroids with small number of cells and co-culture spheroids are emphasized in the article. Moreover, the assay techniques required for the characterization of drug delivery and efficacy in spheroids and the challenges associated with such studies are discussed. Examples for the use of spheroids in drug delivery and testing are also emphasized. By addressing these challenges with possible solutions, multicellular spheroids are becoming an increasingly useful in vitro tool for drug screening and delivery to pathological tissues and organs.

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    • "Often, promising results obtained from 2D cannot be translated similarly into in vivo settings (Goodman et al., 2008). Whereas cells on 2D are exposed to a uniform environment with sufficient oxygen and nutrients, cells in solid tumors are exposed to gradients of critical chemical and biological signals (Mehta et al., 2012), which can exert both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on tumor progression (Mehta et al., 2012). Intriguingly, certain tumor cells from cancer patients are intrinsically resistant to a broad spectrum of chemotherapeutic drugs without any previous exposure to those cytotoxic agents (Sanchez et al., 2009; Zhu et al., 2005, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Cancer occurs when cells acquire genomic instability and inflammation, produce abnormal levels of epigenetic factors/proteins and tumor suppressors, reprogram the energy metabolism and evade immune destruction, leading to the disruption of cell cycle/normal growth. An early event in carcinogenesis is loss of polarity and detachment from the natural basement membrane, allowing cells to form distinct three-dimensional (3D) structures that interact with each other and with the surrounding microenvironment. Although valuable information has been accumulated from traditional in vitro studies in which cells are grown on flat and hard plastic surfaces (2D culture), this culture condition does not reflect the essential features of tumor tissues. Further, fundamental understanding of cancer metastasis cannot be obtained readily from 2D studies because they lack the complex and dynamic cell-cell communications and cell-matrix interactions that occur during cancer metastasis. These shortcomings, along with lack of spatial depth and cell connectivity, limit the applicability of 2D cultures to accurate testing of pharmacologically active compounds, free or sequestered in nanoparticles. To recapitulate features of native tumor microenvironments, various biomimetic 3D tumor models have been developed to incorporate cancer and stromal cells, relevant matrix components, and biochemical and biophysical cues, into one spatially and temporally integrated system. In this article, we review recent advances in creating 3D tumor models employing tissue engineering principles. We then evaluate the utilities of these novel models for the testing of anticancer drugs and their delivery systems. We highlight the profound differences in responses from 3D in vitro tumors and conventional monolayer cultures. Overall, strategic integration of biological principles and engineering approaches will both improve understanding of tumor progression and invasion and support discovery of more personalized first line treatments for cancer patients.
    Biotechnology Advances 11/2014; 32(7). DOI:10.1016/j.biotechadv.2014.07.009 · 9.02 Impact Factor
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    • "Second, single cells and monolayers are not biologically relevant models, especially for studying complex biological processes [14]. Altogether, a more appropriate approach would consist of performing SECM measurements on arrays of 3D cell aggregates such as spheroids, which are acknowledged as closer models to the in vivo situation [15]. "
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    ABSTRACT: While scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) is a powerful technique for non-invasive analysis of cells, SECM-based assays remain scarce and have been mainly limited so far to single cells, which is mostly due to the absence of suitable platform for experimentation on 3D cellular aggregates or microtissues. Here, we report stamping of a Petri dish with a microwell array for large-scale production of microtissues followed by their in situ analysis using SECM. The platform is realized by hot embossing arrays of microwells (200 μm depth; 400 μm diameter) in commercially available Petri dishes, using a PDMS stamp. Microtissues form spontaneously in the microwells, which is demonstrated here using various cell lines (e.g., HeLa, C2C12, HepG2 and MCF-7). Next, the respiratory activity of live HeLa microtissues is assessed by monitoring the oxygen reduction current in constant height mode and at various distances above the platform surface. Typically, at a 40 μm distance from the microtissue, a 30% decrease in the oxygen reduction current is measured, while above 250 μm, no influence of the presence of the microtissues is detected. After exposure to a model drug (50% ethanol), no such changes in oxygen concentration are found at any height in solution, which reflects that microtissues are not viable anymore. This is furthermore confirmed using conventional live/dead fluorescent stains. This live/dead assay demonstrates the capability of the proposed approach combining SECM and microtissue arrays formed in a stamped Petri dish for conducting cellular assays in a non-invasive way on 3D cellular models.
    PLoS ONE 04/2014; 9(4):e93618. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0093618 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "The main advantages of the MTS are their simple spherical symmetry and the fact that they can be produced in large quantities. These characteristics make them popular both in mathematical modeling and in biological research: MTS provide an experimental biological model that has allowed researchers to determine protein expression McMahon et al. (2012); Gupta and Johansson (2012), check mathematical models Radszuweit et al. (2009); Bertuzzi et al. (2010); Kazmi et al. (2012), and study drug delivery to treat cancer disease Mehta et al. (2012); Gibot et al. (2013), to mention a few applications. The understanding of how MTS grow is indeed crucial to further comprehend some aspects of in vivo tumor progression. "
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    ABSTRACT: Tumor growth is often the result of the simultaneous development of two or more cancer cell populations. Their interaction between them characterizes the system evolution. To obtain information about these interactions we apply the recently developed vector universality (VUN) formalism to various instances of competition between tumor populations. The formalism allows us: (a) to quantify the growth mechanisms of a HeLa cell colony, describing the phenotype switching responsible for its fast expansion, (b) to reliably reconstruct the evolution of the necrotic and viable fractions in both in vitro and in vivo tumors using data for the time dependences of the total masses, and (c) to show how the shedding of cells leading to subspheroid formation is beneficial to both the spheroid and subspheroid populations, suggesting that shedding is a strong positive influence on cancer dissemination.
    Journal of Theoretical Biology 03/2014; 365. DOI:10.1016/j.jtbi.2014.10.038 · 2.12 Impact Factor
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