3D matrix-based cell cultures: Automated analysis of tumor cell survival and proliferation

Int J Oncol. 2016 Jan;48(1):313-21. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2015.3230. Epub 2015 Nov 4.


Three-dimensional ex vivo cell cultures mimic physiological in vivo growth conditions thereby significantly contributing to our understanding of tumor cell growth and survival, therapy resistance and identification of novel potent cancer targets. In the present study, we describe advanced three-dimensional cell culture methodology for investigating cellular survival and proliferation in human carcinoma cells after cancer therapy including molecular therapeutics. Single cells are embedded into laminin-rich extracellular matrix and can be treated with cytotoxic drugs, ionizing or UV radiation or any other substance of interest when consolidated and approximating in vivo morphology. Subsequently, cells are allowed to grow for automated determination of clonogenic survival (colony number) or proliferation (colony size). The entire protocol of 3D cell plating takes ~1 h working time and pursues for ~7 days before evaluation. This newly developed method broadens the spectrum of exploration of malignant tumors and other diseases and enables the obtainment of more reliable data on cancer treatment efficacy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / radiotherapy
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation* / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation* / radiation effects
  • Cell Survival* / drug effects
  • Cell Survival* / radiation effects
  • Extracellular Matrix / drug effects
  • Extracellular Matrix / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Laminin / chemistry


  • Laminin