Assessing Cell Viability and Death in 3D Spheroid Cultures of Cancer Cells

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Three-dimensional spheroids of cancer cells are important tools for both cancer drug screens and for gaining mechanistic insight into cancer cell biology. The power of this preparation lies in its ability to mimic many aspects of the in vivo conditions of tumors while being fast, cheap, and versatile enough to allow relatively high-throughput screening. The spheroid culture conditions can recapitulate the physico-chemical gradients in a tumor, including the increasing extracellular acidity, increased lactate, and decreasing glucose and oxygen availability, from the spheroid periphery to its core. Also, the mechanical properties and cell-cell interactions of in vivo tumors are in part mimicked by this model. The specific properties and consequently the optimal growth conditions, of 3D spheroids, differ widely between different types of cancer cells. Furthermore, the assessment of cell viability and death in 3D spheroids requires methods that differ in part from those employed for 2D cultures. Here we describe several protocols for preparing 3D spheroids of cancer cells, and for using such cultures to assess cell viability and death in the context of evaluating the efficacy of anticancer drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere59714
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number148
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • 3D cell culture, Anti-cancer therapy, Breast cancer, Cancer Research, Cell viability, Chemotherapy, Drug treatment, Hanging drop, Immunohistochemistry, Issue 148, Pancreatic cancer, Propidium iodide, Reconstituted basement membrane, Spheroids

ID: 234024117