Evaporation-reducing Culture Condition Increases the Reproducibility of Multicellular Spheroid Formation in Microtiter Plates

J Vis Exp. 2017 Mar 7:(121):55403. doi: 10.3791/55403.


Tumor models that closely imitate in vivo conditions are becoming increasingly popular in drug discovery and development for the screening of potential anti-cancer drugs. Multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTSes) effectively mimic the physiological conditions of solid tumors, making them excellent in vitro models for lead optimization and target validation. Out of the various techniques available for MCTS culture, the liquid-overlay method on agarose is one of the most inexpensive methods for MCTS generation. However, the reliable transfer of MCTS cultures using liquid-overlay for high-throughput screening may be compromised by a number of limitations, including the coating of microtiter plates (MPs) with agarose and the irreproducibility of uniform MCTS formation across wells. MPs are significantly prone to edge effects that result from excessive evaporation of medium from the exterior of the plate, preventing the use of the entire plate for drug tests. This manuscript provides detailed technical improvements to the liquid-overlay technique to increase the scalability and reproducibility of uniform MCTS formation. Additionally, details on a simple, semi-automatic, and universally applicable software tool for the evaluation of MCTS features after drug treatment is presented.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spheroids, Cellular
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured