Engineering a vascularised 3D in vitro model of cancer progression

Tarig Magdeldin, Víctor López-Dávila, Judith Pape, Grant W. W. Cameron, Mark Emberton, Marilena Loizidou & Umber Cheema
Source: Nature
Publication Date: (2017)
Issue: 7(44045): DOI: 10.1038/srep44045
Research Area:
Cancer Research/Cell Biology
Cells used in publication:
Endothelial, umbilical vein, human (HUVEC)
Species: human
Tissue Origin: vein
The hallmark of tumours is the ability of cancerous cells to promote vascular growth, to disseminate and invade to distant organs. The metastatic process is heavily influenced by the extracellular matrix (ECM) density and composition of the surrounding tumour microenvironment. These microenvironmental cues, which include hypoxia, also regulate the angiogenic processes within a tumour, facilitating the spread of cancer cells. We engineered compartmentalized biomimetic colorectal tumouroids with stromal surrounds that comprised a range of ECM densities, composition and stromal cell populations. Recapitulating tissue ECM composition and stromal cell composition enhanced cancer cell invasion. Manipulation of ECM density was associated with an altered migration pattern from glandular buds (cellular aggregates) to epithelial cell sheets. Laminin appeared to be a critical component in regulating endothelial cell morphology and vascular network formation. Interestingly, the disruption of vascular networks by cancer cells was driven by changes in expression of several anti-angiogenic genes. Cancer cells cultured in our biomimetic tumouroids exhibited intratumoural heterogeneity that was associated with increased tumour invasion into the stroma. These findings demonstrate that our 3D in vitro tumour model exhibits biomimetic attributes that may permit their use in studying microenvironment clues of tumour progression and angiogenesis.