Organotypic collagen I assay: a malleable platform to assess cell behaviour in a 3-dimensional context

J Vis Exp. 2011 Oct 13;(56):e3089. doi: 10.3791/3089.


Cell migration is fundamental to many aspects of biology, including development, wound healing, the cellular responses of the immune system, and metastasis of tumor cells. Migration has been studied on glass coverslips in order to make cellular dynamics amenable to investigation by light microscopy. However, it has become clear that many aspects of cell migration depend on features of the local environment including its elasticity, protein composition, and pore size, which are not faithfully represented by rigid two dimensional substrates such as glass and plastic. Furthermore, interaction with other cell types, including stromal fibroblasts and immune cells, has been shown to play a critical role in promoting the invasion of cancer cells. Investigation at the molecular level has increasingly shown that molecular dynamics, including response to drug treatment, of identical cells are significantly different when compared in vitro and in vivo. Ideally, it would be best to study cell migration in its naturally occurring context in living organisms, however this is not always possible. Intermediate tissue culture systems, such as cell derived matrix, matrigel, organotypic culture (described here) tissue explants, organoids, and xenografts, are therefore important experimental intermediates. These systems approximate certain aspects of an in vivo environment but are more amenable to experimental manipulation such as use of stably transfected cell lines, drug treatment regimes, long term and high-resolution imaging. Such intermediate systems are especially useful as proving grounds to validate probes and establish parameters required to image the dynamic response of cells and fluorescent reporters prior to undertaking imaging in vivo. As such, they can serve an important role in reducing the need for experiments on living animals.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Collagen Type I*
  • Culture Media
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Organ Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Rats
  • Skin / cytology
  • Tissue Culture Techniques / methods*


  • Collagen Type I
  • Culture Media