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Sci Rep. 2019 Sep 10;9(1):13012. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49671-3.

3D cell culture stimulates the secretion of in vivo like extracellular vesicles.

Author information

1
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 66045, USA.
2
Bioengineering Research Center, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 66045, USA.
3
Bioengineering Research Center, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 66045, USA. meih@ku.edu.
4
Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 66045, USA. meih@ku.edu.
5
Department of Chemistry, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 66045, USA. meih@ku.edu.

Abstract

For studying cellular communications ex-vivo, a two-dimensional (2D) cell culture model is currently used as the "gold standard". 2D culture models are also widely used in the study of RNA expression profiles from tumor cells secreted extracellular vesicles (EVs) for tumor biomarker discovery. Although the 2D culture system is simple and easily accessible, the culture environment is unable to represent in vivo extracellular matrix (ECM) microenvironment. Our study observed that 2D- culture derived EVs showed significantly different profiles in terms of secretion dynamics and essential signaling molecular contents (RNAs and DNAs), when compared to the three-dimensional (3D) culture derived EVs. By performing small RNA next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis of cervical cancer cells and their EVs compared with cervical cancer patient plasma EV-derived small RNAs, we observed that 3D- culture derived EV small RNAs differ from their parent cell small RNA profile which may indicate a specific sorting process. Most importantly, the 3D- culture derived EV small RNA profile exhibited a much higher similarity (~96%) to in vivo circulating EVs derived from cervical cancer patient plasma. However, 2D- culture derived EV small RNA profile correlated better with only their parent cells cultured in 2D. On the other hand, DNA sequencing analysis suggests that culture and growth conditions do not affect the genomic information carried by EV secretion. This work also suggests that tackling EV molecular alterations secreted into interstitial fluids can provide an alternative, non-invasive approach for investigating 3D tissue behaviors at the molecular precision. This work could serve as a foundation for building precise models employed in mimicking in vivo tissue system with EVs as the molecular indicators or transporters. Such models could be used for investigating tumor biomarkers, drug screening, and understanding tumor progression and metastasis.

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