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J Cell Biochem. 1993 Mar;51(3):290-300.

Prospects for use of microgravity-based bioreactors to study three-dimensional host-tumor interactions in human neoplasia.

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Department of Surgery, New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.


Microgravity offers unique advantages for the cultivation of mammalian tissues because the lack of gravity-induced sedimentation supports three-dimensional growth in batch culture in aqueous medium. Bioreactors that simulate microgravity but operate in unit gravity provide conditions that permit human epithelial cells to grow to densities approaching 10(7) cells/ml on microcarriers in suspension, in masses up to 1 cm in diameter, and under conditions of low shear stress. While useful for many different applications in tissue culture, this culture system is especially useful for the analysis of the microenvironment in which host matrix and cells interact with infiltrating tumor cells. Growth in the microgravity-based bioreactor has supported morphological differentiation of human colon carcinoma cells when cultured with normal human stromal cells. Furthermore, these co-cultures produced factors that stimulated goblet cell production in normal colon cells in an in vivo bioassay. Early experiments also suggest that the microgravity environment will not alter the ability of epithelial cells to recognize and associate with each other and with constituents of basement membrane and extracellular matrix. These findings suggest that cells grown in bioreactors that simulate aspects of microgravity or under actual microgravity conditions will produce tissues and substances in sufficient quantity and at high enough concentration to promote characterization of molecules that control differentiation and neoplastic transformation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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