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Langmuir. 2012 Jan 31;28(4):2028-34. doi: 10.1021/la203846w. Epub 2011 Dec 27.

Electrospun fibrous scaffolds promote breast cancer cell alignment and epithelial-mesenchymal transition.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry & Nanocenter, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA.


In this work we created electrospun fibrous scaffolds with random and aligned fiber orientations in order to mimic the three-dimensional structure of the natural extracellular matrix (ECM). The rigidity and topography of the ECM environment have been reported to alter cancer cell behavior. However, the complexity of the in vivo system makes it difficult to isolate and study such extracellular topographical cues that trigger cancer cells' response. Breast cancer cells were cultured on these fibrous scaffolds for 3-5 days. The cells showed elongated spindle-like morphology in the aligned fibers, whereas they maintained a mostly flat stellar shape in the random fibers. Gene expression profiling of these cells post seeding showed up-regulation of transforming growth factor β-1 (TGFβ-1) along with other mesenchymal biomarkers, suggesting that these cells undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transitions in response to the polymer scaffold. The results of this study indicate that the topographical cue may play a significant role in tumor progression.

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