Current status of organoid culture in urological malignancy

Int J Urol. 2021 Oct 13. doi: 10.1111/iju.14727. Online ahead of print.


Urological cancers are common malignancies worldwide. Several conventional models, for example, two-dimensional cell culture and animal models have been used for decades to study tumor genetics. Nonetheless, these methods have limitations in reflecting the real tumor microenvironment in vivo, thereby hindering the development of anti-cancer therapeutic agents. Recently, three-dimensional culture models have gained attention because they can overcome the drawbacks of traditional methods. Above all, three-dimensional organoid models are able to mimic the tumor microenvironment in human bodies more closely as they are able to demonstrate the interactions between cells and extracellular matrix. This type of model has therefore extended our understanding of urological cancers. Tumor cells in organoid models can also be co-cultured with other cellular components, such as peripheral blood lymphocytes, and allow further understanding of the effect of tumor microenvironments on tumor growth. Furthermore, organoid models allow a prolonged culturing period, therefore, tumor evolution, progression and maintenance can also be assessed. Organoid models can be derived from each specific patient, and this facilitates investigation of individual cancer-specific mutations and their subtypes. As a result, the development of personalized medication targeting the signaling pathways or biomolecules of interest will be possible. In the present review, we summarize the development and applications of three-dimensional organoid cultures in urological cancers, mainly focusing on prostate, urinary bladder and kidney cancers, and assess the future prospects of this model.

Keywords: 3D models; bladder cancer; kidney cancer; organoids; prostate cancer; urological cancers.

Publication types

  • Review