3D bioprinting for reconstituting the cancer microenvironment

NPJ Precis Oncol. 2020 Jul 27;4:18. doi: 10.1038/s41698-020-0121-2. eCollection 2020.


The cancer microenvironment is known for its complexity, both in its content as well as its dynamic nature, which is difficult to study using two-dimensional (2D) cell culture models. Several advances in tissue engineering have allowed more physiologically relevant three-dimensional (3D) in vitro cancer models, such as spheroid cultures, biopolymer scaffolds, and cancer-on-a-chip devices. Although these models serve as powerful tools for dissecting the roles of various biochemical and biophysical cues in carcinoma initiation and progression, they lack the ability to control the organization of multiple cell types in a complex dynamic 3D architecture. By virtue of its ability to precisely define perfusable networks and position of various cell types in a high-throughput manner, 3D bioprinting has the potential to more closely recapitulate the cancer microenvironment, relative to current methods. In this review, we discuss the applications of 3D bioprinting in mimicking cancer microenvironment, their use in immunotherapy as prescreening tools, and overview of current bioprinted cancer models.

Keywords: Cancer microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review