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Cytometry A. 2017 May;91(5):424-432. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.23083. Epub 2017 Mar 17.

Characterization of dormant and active human cancer cells by quantitative phase imaging.

Guo P1,2, Huang J1,2, Moses MA1,2.

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Vascular Biology Program, Boston Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115.
Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115.


The switch of tumor cells from a dormant, non-angiogenic phenotype to an active, angiogenic phenotype is a critical step in early cancer progression. To date, relatively little is known about the cellular behaviors of angiogenic and non-angiogenic tumor cell phenotypes. In this study, holographic imaging cytometry, a quantitative phase imaging (QPI) technique was used to continuously and non-invasively analyze, quantify, and compare a panel of fundamental cellular behaviors of angiogenic and non-angiogenic human osteosarcoma cells (KHOS) in a simple and economical way. Results revealed that angiogenic KHOS cells (KHOS-A) have significantly higher cell motility speeds than their non-angiogenic counterpart (KHOS-N) while no difference in their cell proliferation rates and cell cycle lengths were observed. KHOS-A cells were also found to have significantly smaller cell areas and greater cell optical thicknesses when compared with the non-angiogenic KHOS-N cells. No difference in average cell volumes was observed. These studies demonstrate that the morphology and behavior of angiogenic and non-angiogenic cells can be continuously, efficiently, and non-invasively monitored using a simple, quantitative, and economical system that does not require tedious and time-consuming assays to provide useful information about tumor dormancy.


cell cycle; cell migration; cell morphology; cell phenotype; holographic microscopy; osteosarcoma; quantitative phase imaging; tumor angiogenesis; tumor dormancy

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