Culture of cancer spheroids and evaluation of anti-cancer drugs in 3D-printed miniaturized continuous stirred tank reactors (mCSTRs)

Jun 29, 2022, 4:10 PM
Room: S1

Room: S1


Alvarez, Mario (Tecnológico de Monterrey )


Cancer continues to be a leading cause of mortality in modern societies; therefore, improved and more reliable in vitro cancer models are needed to expedite fundamental research and anti-cancer drug development. Here, we describe the use of a miniaturized continuous stirred tank reactor (mCSTR) to first fabricate and mature cancer spheroids (i.e, derived from MCF7 cells, DU145 cells, and a mix of MCF7 cells and fibroblasts), and then to conduct anti-cancer drug assays under continuous perfusion. This 3 mL mCSTR features an off-center agitation system that enables homogeneous chaotic laminar mixing at low speeds to support cell aggregation. We incubated cell suspensions for 3 days in ultra-low-adherence (ULA) plates to allow formation of discoid cell aggregates (~600 µm in diameter). These cell aggregates were then transferred into mCSTRs and continuously fed with culture medium. We characterized the spheroid morphology and the expression of relevant tumor biomarkers at different maturation times for up to 4 weeks. The spheroids progressively increased in size during the first 5 to 6 days of culture to reach a steady diameter between 600 and 800 µm. In proof-of-principle experiments, we demonstrated the use of this mCSTR in anti-cancer drug testing. Three drugs commonly used in breast cancer treatment (doxorubicin, docetaxel, and paclitaxel) were probed at different concentrations in MCF7 derived spheroids. In these experiments, we evaluated cell viability, glucose consumption, spheroid morphology, lactate dehydrogenase activity, and the expression of genes associated with drug resistance (ABCB1 and ABCC1) and anti-apoptosis (Bcl2). We envision the use of this agitated system as a tumor-on-a-chip platform to expedite efficacy and safety testing of novel anti-cancer drugs and possibly in personalized medicine applications.


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