skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


This content will become publicly available on May 25, 2024

Title: Electron microscopy imaging and mechanical characterization of T47D multicellular tumor spheroids–Older spheroids reduce interstitial space and become stiffer
Multicellular cancer spheroids are an in vitro tissue model that mimics the three-dimensional microenvironment. As spheroids grow, they develop the gradients of oxygen, nutrients, and catabolites, affecting crucial tumor characteristics such as proliferation and treatment responses. The measurement of spheroid stiffness provides a quantitative measure to evaluate such structural changes over time. In this report, we measured the stiffness of size-matched day 5 and day 20 tumor spheroids using a custom-built microscale force sensor and conducted transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging to compare the internal structures. We found that older spheroids reduce interstitial spaces in the core region and became significantly stiffer. The measured elastic moduli were 260±100 and 680±150 Pa, for day 5 and day 20 spheroids, respectively. The day 20 spheroids showed an optically dark region in the center. Analyzing the high-resolution TEM images of spheroid middle sections across the diameter showed that the cells in the inner region of the day 20 spheroids are significantly larger and more closely packed than those in the outer regions. On the other hand, the day 5 spheroids did not show a significant difference between the inner and outer regions. The observed reduction of the interstitial space may be one factor that contributes to stiffer older spheroids.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1942518 1809047 2223957
NSF-PAR ID:
10421608
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Editor(s):
Weihs, Daphne
Date Published:
Journal Name:
PLOS ONE
Volume:
18
Issue:
5
ISSN:
1932-6203
Page Range / eLocation ID:
e0286291
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Maini, Philip K (Ed.)
    Experiments on tumor spheroids have shown that compressive stress from their environment can reversibly decrease tumor expansion rates and final sizes. Stress release experiments show that nonuniform anisotropic elastic stresses can be distributed throughout. The elastic stresses are maintained by structural proteins and adhesive molecules, and can be actively relaxed by a variety of biophysical processes. In this paper, we present a new continuum model to investigate how the growth-induced elastic stresses and active stress relaxation, in conjunction with cell size control feedback machinery, regulate the cell density and stress distributions within growing tumors as well as the tumor sizes in the presence of external physical confinement and gradients of growth-promoting chemical fields. We introduce an adaptive reference map that relates the current position with the reference position but adapts to the current position in the Eulerian frame (lab coordinates) via relaxation. This type of stress relaxation is similar to but simpler than the classical Maxwell model of viscoelasticity in its formulation. By fitting the model to experimental data from two independent studies of tumor spheroid growth and their cell density distributions, treating the tumors as incompressible, neo-Hookean elastic materials, we find that the rates of stress relaxation of tumor tissues can be comparable to volumetric growth rates. Our study provides insight on how the biophysical properties of the tumor and host microenvironment, mechanical feedback control and diffusion-limited differential growth act in concert to regulate spatial patterns of stress and growth. When the tumor is stiffer than the host, our model predicts tumors are more able to change their size and mechanical state autonomously, which may help to explain why increased tumor stiffness is an established hallmark of malignant tumors. 
    more » « less
  2. Three-dimensional (3D) tumor spheroid models have gained increased recognition as important tools in cancer research and anti-cancer drug development. However, currently available imaging approaches employed in high-throughput screening drug discovery platforms e.g. bright field, phase contrast, and fluorescence microscopies, are unable to resolve 3D structures deep inside (>50 μm) tumor spheroids. In this study, we established a label-free, non-invasive optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging platform to characterize 3D morphological and physiological information of multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTS) growing from ~250 μm up to ~600 μm in height over 21 days. In particular, tumor spheroids of two cell lines glioblastoma (U-87 MG) and colorectal carcinoma (HCT 116) exhibited distinctive evolutions in their geometric shapes at late growth stages. Volumes of MCTS were accurately quantified using a voxel-based approach without presumptions of their geometries. In contrast, conventional diameter-based volume calculations assuming perfect spherical shape resulted in large quantification errors. Furthermore, we successfully detected necrotic regions within these tumor spheroids based on increased intrinsic optical attenuation, suggesting a promising alternative of label-free viability tests in tumor spheroids. Therefore, OCT can serve as a promising imaging modality to characterize morphological and physiological features of MCTS, showing great potential for high-throughput drug screening. 
    more » « less
  3. Mechanical distension beyond a particular threshold evokes visceral pain from distal colon and rectum (colorectum) and thus biomechanics plays a central role in visceral nociception. In this study we focused on the layered structure of the colorectum through the wall thickness and determined the biomechanical properties of layer-separated colorectal tissue. We harvested the distal 30 mm of mouse colorectum and dissected into inner and outer composite layers. The inner composite consists of the mucosa and submucosa while the outer composite includes the muscular layers and serosa. We divided each composite axially into three 10 mm-long segments and conducted biaxial mechanical extension tests and opening-angle measurements for each tissue segment. In addition, we quantified the thickness of the rich collagen network in the submucosa by nonlinear imaging via second harmonic generation (SHG). Our results reveal the inner composite is slightly stiffer in the axial direction while the outer composite is stiffer circumferentially. The stiffness of the inner composite in the axial direction is about twice that in the circumferential direction, consistent with the orientations of collagen fibers in the submucosa approximately ±30 degrees to the axial direction. Submucosal thickness measured by SHG showed no difference from proximal to distal colorectum under load-free condition, which likely contributes to the comparable tension stiffness of the inner composite along the colorectum. This, in turn, strongly indicates the submucosa as the load-bearing structure of the colorectum. This further implies nociceptive roles for the colorectal afferent endings in the submucosa that likely encode tissue-injurious mechanical distension. 
    more » « less
  4. 2938 Using a Human Liver Tissue Equivalent (hLTE) Platform to Define the Functional Impact of Liver-Directed AAV Gene Therapy 63rd ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition, December 11-14, 2021, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts Session: 801. Gene Therapies: Poster II Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways: Bleeding and Clotting, Biological, Translational Research, Hemophilia, Genetic Disorders, Clinically Relevant, Diseases, Gene Therapy, Therapies Sunday, December 12, 2021, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM Ritu M Ramamurthy1*, Wen Ting Zheng2*, Sunil George, PhD1*, Meimei Wan1*, Yu Zhou, PhD1*, Baisong Lu, PhD1*, Colin E Bishop, PhD1*, Anthony Atala, M.D.1*, Christopher D Porada, PhD1* and M. Graca Almeida-Porada, MD3 1Fetal Research and Therapy Program, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Winston Salem, NC 2Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 3Fetal Research and Therapy Program, Wake Forest Institute For Regenerative Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC Clinical trials employing AAV vectors for hemophilia A have been hindered by unanticipated immunological and/or inflammatory responses in some of the patients. Also, these trials have often yielded lower levels of transgene expression than were expected based upon preclinical studies, highlighting the poor correlation between the transduction efficiency observed in traditional 2D cultures of primary cells in vitro, and that observed in those same cell types in vivo. It has been also recognized that there are marked species-specific differences in AAV-vector tropism, raising the critical question of the accuracy with which various animal models will likely predict tropism/vector transduction efficiency, and eventual treatment success in humans. Human liver tissue equivalents (hLTEs) are comprised of major cell types in the liver in physiologically relevant frequencies and possess the ability to recapitulate the biology and function of native human liver. Here, we hypothesize that hLTEs can be used as a better model to predict the efficacy and safety of AAV gene therapy in humans. We fabricated hLTEs using 75% hepatocytes, 10% stellate cells, 10% Kupffer cells, and 5% liver sinusoid-derived endothelial cells in 96-well Elplasia plates with 79 microwells per well. hLTEs were transduced at an MOI of 105vg/cell, on the day of fabrication, with the clinically relevant serotypes AAV5 (hLTE-5) or AAV3b (hLTE-3b), both encoding a GFP reporter. After 4 days of self-aggregation, live/dead assay was performed to confirm viability. Non-transduced hLTEs served as negative controls (hLTE(-)), and hLTEs exposed to 20 mM acetaminophen were used as positive controls for liver inflammation/damage. Incucyte® Live-Cell Imaging system was used to track the aggregation and GFP expression of hLTEs. Over the course of the next 5 days, media was collected to determine hepatic functionality, RNA was isolated to assess dysregulation of genes involved in inflammation and fibrosis, DNA was isolated to determine whether AAV vectors integrate into the genome of human hepatocytes and, if so, to define the frequency at which this occurs and the genomic loci of integration, and hLTEs were fixed and processed at appropriate times for histological analyses and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). TEM analysis revealed that all groups exhibited microvilli and bile-canaliculus-like structures, demonstrating the formation of a rudimentary biliary system and, more importantly, proving that hLTEs resemble native liver structure. Incucyte® imaging showed that AAV5 and AAV3b transduction impaired formation of hLTEs (57.57 ± 2.42 and 24.57 ± 4.01 spheroids/well, respectively) in comparison with hLTE(-) (74.86 ± 3.8 spheroids/well). Quantification of GFP expression demonstrated that AAV5 yielded the most efficient transduction of hLTEs (fold change in GFP expression compared to control: 2.73 ± 0.09 and 1.19 ± 0.03 for hLTE-5 and hLTE-3b, respectively). Chromogenic assays showed decreased urea production in cell culture supernatants of AAV transduced groups compared to the non-transduced hLTEs on days 6 and 10 of culture, demonstrating decreased hepatocyte functionality. However, ALT and AST levels were similar in all groups. On day 10, hLTEs were either used for RNA isolation or fixed in 4% PFA and processed for histology. Masson’s Trichrome and Alcian Blue/Sirius Red staining was performed to detect fibrosis, which was then quantified using ImageJ. These analyses showed no significant increase in fibrosis in either hLTE-5 or hLTE-3b compared to hLTE(-). Nevertheless, RT2 PCR Array for Human Fibrosis detected dysregulation of several genes involved in fibrosis/inflammation in both hLTE-5 and hLTE-3b (16/84 and 26/84, respectively). In conclusion, data collected thus far show successful recapitulation of native liver biology and demonstrate that AAV5 transduces hLTEs more efficiently than AAV3b. However, impaired self-aggregation and decreased hepatocyte functionality was observed in both AAV-transduced groups. Studies to address the incidence and location(s) of AAV integration are ongoing. We have thus shown that the hLTE system can provide critical new knowledge regarding the efficacy and safety of AAV gene therapy in the human liver. Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare. 
    more » « less
  5. Slowing peritoneal spread in high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) would improve patient prognosis and quality of life. HGSOC spreads when single cells and spheroids detach, float through the peritoneal fluid and take over new sites, with spheroids thought to be more aggressive than single cells. Using our in vitro model of spheroid collective detachment, we determine that increased substrate stiffness led to the detachment of more spheroids. We identified a mechanism where Piezo1 activity increased MMP-1/MMP-10, decreased collagen I and fibronectin, and increased spheroid detachment. Piezo1 expression was confirmed in omental masses from patients with stage III/IV HGSOC. Using OV90 and CRISPR-modifiedPIEZO1−/−OV90 in a mouse xenograft model, we determined that while both genotypes efficiently took over the omentum, loss of Piezo1 significantly decreased ascitic volume, tumor spheroids in the ascites, and the number of macroscopic tumors in the mesentery. These results support that slowing collective detachment may benefit patients and identify Piezo1 as a potential therapeutic target.

     
    more » « less