Use of a novel 3D culture model to elucidate the role of mesothelial cells, fibroblasts and extra-cellular matrices on adhesion and invasion of ovarian cancer cells to the omentum

Int J Cancer. 2007 Oct 1;121(7):1463-72. doi: 10.1002/ijc.22874.


The omentum is a major site of ovarian cancer metastasis. Our goal was to establish a three-dimensional (3D) model of the key components of the omental microenvironment (mesothelial cells, fibroblasts and extracellular matrices) to study ovarian cancer cell adhesion and invasion. The 3D model comprised of primary human fibroblasts extracted from normal human omentum, mixed with ECM and covered by a layer of primary human mesothelial cells, also from normal human omentum. After addition of ovarian cancer cells, the histological appearance of the 3D culture mimicked microscopic metastases to the omentum from patients with ovarian cancer. When ovarian cancer cells, SKOV3ip.1 and HeyA8, were applied to the 3D omental culture, 60% and 68% of all cells attached, respectively, but only 18% and 25% were able to invade. Ovarian cancer cells preferentially adhered to and invaded collagen I, followed by binding to collagen IV, fibronectin, vitronectin, laminin 10 and 1. Omental mesothelial cells significantly inhibited ovarian cancer cell adhesion and invasion, while omental fibroblasts induced adhesion and invasion. This effect is clearly mediated by direct cell-cell contact, since conditioned medium from mesothelial cells or fibroblasts has a minimal, or no, effect on ovarian cancer cell adhesion and invasion. In summary, we have established a 3D model to study the early steps of ovarian cancer metastasis to the human omentum, and found that omental mesothelial cells inhibit, while omental fibroblasts and the ECM enhance, the attachment and invasion of ovarian cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CA-125 Antigen / analysis
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratins / analysis
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Omentum / cytology
  • Omentum / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Procollagen-Proline Dioxygenase / analysis
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vimentin / analysis
  • beta Catenin / analysis


  • CA-125 Antigen
  • Vimentin
  • beta Catenin
  • Keratins
  • Procollagen-Proline Dioxygenase