A Spheroid Killing Assay by CAR T Cells

J Vis Exp. 2018 Dec 12:(142). doi: 10.3791/58785.


Immunotherapy has become a field of growing interest in the fight against cancer otherwise untreatable. Among all immunotherapeutic methods, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) redirected T cells obtained the most spectacular results, in particular with pediatric B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). Classical validation methods of CAR T cells rely on the use of specificity and functionality assays of the CAR T cells against target cells in suspension and in xenograft models. Unfortunately, observations made in vitro are often decoupled from results obtained in vivo and a lot of effort and animals could be spared by adding another step: the use of 3D culture. The production of spheroids out of potential target cells that mimic the 3D structure of the tumor cells when they are engrafted into the animal model represents an ideal alternative. Here, we report an affordable, reliable and easy method to produce spheroids from a transduced colorectal cell line as a validation tool for adoptive cell therapy (exemplified here by CD19 CAR T cells). This method is coupled with an advanced live imaging system that can follow spheroid growth, effector cells cytotoxicity and tumor cell apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD19 / metabolism
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antigens, CD19
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins