Controlled 3D culture in Matrigel microbeads to analyze clonal acinar development

Biomaterials. 2015 Jun:52:347-57. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.02.042. Epub 2015 Mar 3.


3D culture systems are a valuable tool for modeling morphogenesis and carcinogenesis of epithelial tissue in a structurally appropriate context. We present a novel approach for 3D cell culture based on a flow-focusing microfluidic system that encapsulates epithelial cells in Matrigel beads. As a model we use prostatic and breast cells and assay for development of acini, polarized cellular spheres enclosing lumen. Each individual bead on average acts as a single 3D cell culture compartment generating one acinus per bead. Compared to standard protocols microfluidics provides increased control over the environment leading to more a uniform acini population. The increased facility of bead manipulation allowed us to isolate single cells which are self-sufficient to fully develop into acini in presence of Matrigel. Furthermore, combination of our microfluidic approach with large particle FACS opens new avenues in high throughput screening on single acini or spheroids.

Keywords: 3D cell culture; Cell encapsulation; Epithelial cells; Prostate; Scaffolds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acinar Cells / cytology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Culture Techniques*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen / chemistry*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Laminin / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Microfluidics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Proteoglycans / chemistry*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Drug Combinations
  • Laminin
  • Proteoglycans
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • matrigel
  • Collagen