Prostate epithelial cell lines form spheroids with evidence of glandular differentiation in three-dimensional Matrigel cultures

Br J Cancer. 2001 Aug 17;85(4):590-9. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2001.1967.


Normal (PNT2-C2) and metastatic (PC-3) prostate cell lines were grown in Matrigel to observe the effects on morphology and phenotype in comparison to monolayer culture. In monolayer cultures, PNT2-C2 showed typical round/cuboidal epithelial morphology, with tight cell associations, whereas in Matrigel they formed smooth spheroids, tightly packed with cells. In both monolayer and Matrigel, PNT2-C2 had a differentiated luminal epithelial phenotype with high expression of cytokeratin 8, prostate specific antigen (PSA), prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA), E-cadherin and desmoglein. In contrast, PC-3 cells possessed an epithelial/mesenchyme morphology in monolayer with loose cell to cell contact and pseudopodial extensions. Immunohistochemical phenotyping indicated the cells were undifferentiated, expressing high levels of vimentin, beta1 integrin, CD44 and low expression of cytokeratin 8. In Matrigel they formed smooth and irregular spheroids, which had a lumen surrounded by a single cell layer. Matrigel also influenced the expression of PSA, PSMA and CD44. These results indicate that Matrigel culture can induce morphological differentiation of prostate cancer cells which initially had a basal phenotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Prostate / cytology
  • Prostate / physiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Spheroids, Cellular / physiology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured