The architecture of co-culture spheroids regulates tumor invasion within a 3D extracellular matrix

Yu Ling Huang, Carina Shiau, Cindy Wu, Jeffrey E. Segall, Mingming Wu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Tumor invasion, the process by which tumor cells break away from their primary tumor and gain access to vascular systems, is an important step in cancer metastasis. Most current 3D tumor invasion assays consisted of a single tumor cell embedded within an extracellular matrix (ECM). These assays taught us much of what we know today on how key biophysical (e.g., ECM stiffness) and biochemical (e.g., cytokine gradients) parameters within the tumor microenvironment guided and regulated tumor invasion. One limitation of the single tumor cell invasion assays was that it did not account for cell-cell adhesion within the tumor. In this chapter, we developed a micrometer scale 3D co-culture spheroid invasion assay that recapitulated physiologically realistic tumor microenvironment and was compatible with microscopic imaging. Micrometer scale co-culture spheroids (1:1 ratio of metastatic breast cancer MDA-MB-231 and non-tumorigenic epithelial MCF-10A cells) were made using an array of microwells, and then were embedded within a collagen matrix in a micro- fiuidic platform. Real time imaging of tumor spheroid invasion revealed that the spatial distribution of the two cell types within the tumor spheroid critically regulated tumor invasion. This work linked tumor architecture with tumor invasion and highlighted the importance of the biophysical cues within the bulk of the tumor in tumor invasion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhysics Of Cancer, The
Subtitle of host publicationResearch Advances
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Co.
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9789811223495
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Cancer
  • Collagen
  • Microfiuidics
  • Tumor invasion
  • Tumor spheroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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