Tissue spheroid fusion-based in vitro screening assays for analysis of tissue maturation

J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2010 Dec;4(8):659-64. doi: 10.1002/term.291.


Organ printing or computer-aided robotic layer-by-layer additive biofabrication of thick three-dimensional (3D) living tissue constructs employing self-assembling tissue spheroids is a rapidly evolving alternative to classic solid scaffold-based approaches in tissue engineering. However, the absence of effective methods of accelerated tissue maturation immediately after bioprinting is the main technological imperative and potential impediment for further progress in the development of this emerging organ printing technology. Identification of the optimal combination of factors and conditions that accelerate tissue maturation ('maturogenic' factors) is an essential and necessary endeavour. Screening of maturogenic factors would be most efficiently accomplished using high-throughput quantitative in vitro tissue maturation assays. We have recently reviewed the formation of solid scaffold-free tissue constructs through the fusion of bioprinted tissue spheroids that have measurable material properties. We hypothesize that the fusion kinetics of these tissue spheroids will provide an efficacious in vitro assay of the level of tissue maturation. We report here the results of experimental testing of two simple quantitative tissue spheroid fusion-based in vitro high-throughput screening assays of tissue maturation: (a) a tissue spheroid envelopment assay; and (b) a tissue spheroid fusion kinetics assay.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / deficiency
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Fusion / methods*
  • Dermis / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Spheroids, Cellular / cytology*
  • Spheroids, Cellular / metabolism
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Postn protein, mouse