Three-dimensional microtissues essentially contribute to preclinical validations of therapeutic targets in breast cancer

Cancer Med. 2016 Apr;5(4):703-10. doi: 10.1002/cam4.630. Epub 2016 Jan 14.


A 3D microtissues using T47D and JIMT-1 cells were generated to analyze tissue-like response of breast cancer cells after combined human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-targeted treatment and radiation. Following lentiviral knockdown of HER2, we compared growth rate alterations using 2D monolayers, 3D microtissues, and mouse xenografts. Additionally, to model combined therapeutic strategies, we treated HER2-depleted T47D cells and 3D microtissues using trastuzumab (anti-HER2 antibody) in combination with irradiation. Comparison of HER2 knockdown with corresponding controls revealed growth impairment due to HER2 knockdown in T47D 2D monolayers, 3D microtissues, and xenografts (after 2, 12, and ≥40 days, respectively). In contrast, HER2 knockdown was less effective in inhibiting growth of trastuzumab-resistant JIMT-1 cells in vitro and in vivo. Combined administration of trastuzumab and radiation treatment was also analyzed using T47D 3D microtissues. Administration of both, radiation (5 Gy) and trastuzumab, significantly enhanced the growth inhibiting effect in 3D microtissues. To improve the predictive power of potential drugs--as single agents or in combination--here, we show that regarding tumor growth analyses, 3D microtissues are highly comparable to outcomes derived from xenografts. Considering increased limitations for animal experiments on the one hand and strong need of novel drugs on the other hand, it is indispensable to include highly reproducible 3D microtissue platform in preclinical analyses to validate more accurately the capacity of future drug-combined radiotherapy.

Keywords: 3D microtissue; HER2 knockdown; combination; model; mouse xenografts; radiation; spheroid; trastuzumab.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical* / methods
  • Female
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Radiation
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / deficiency
  • Tissue Culture Techniques
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptor, ErbB-2