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Biomaterials. 2009 Jun;30(16):3020-7. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.02.047. Epub 2009 Mar 21.

Microfluidic system for formation of PC-3 prostate cancer co-culture spheroids.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan College of Engineering, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


The niche microenvironment in which cancer cells reside plays a prominent role in the growth of cancer. It is therefore imperative to mimic the in vivo tumor niche in vitro to better understand cancer and enhance development of therapeutics. Here, we engineer a 3D metastatic prostate cancer model that includes the types of surrounding cells in the bone microenvironment that the metastatic prostate cancer cells reside in. Specifically, we used a two-layer microfluidic system to culture 3D multi-cell type spheroids of fluorescently labeled metastatic prostate cancer cells (PC-3 cell line), osteoblasts and endothelial cells. This method ensures uniform incorporation of all co-culture cell types into each spheroid and keeps the spheroids stationary for easy tracking of individual spheroids and the PC-3's residing inside them over the course of at least a week. This culture system greatly decreased the proliferation rate of PC-3 cells without reducing viability and may more faithfully recapitulate the in vivo growth behavior of malignant cancer cells within the bone metastatic prostate cancer microenvironment.

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