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Study of oxygen tension variation within live tumor spheroids using microfluidic devices and multi-photon laser scanning microscopy

Sarkar, Sreerupa, Peng, Chien-Chung, Kuo, Chiung Wen, Chueh, Di-Yen, Wu, Hsiao-Mei, Liu, Yuan-Hsuan, Chen, Peilin, Tung, Yi-Chung
RSC advances 2018 v.8 no.53 pp. 30320-30329
angiogenesis, coculture, cytokines, dyes, fluorescence, human umbilical vein endothelial cells, humans, image analysis, microscopy, models, osteosarcoma, oxygen, polydimethylsiloxane
Three-dimensional cell spheroid culture using microfluidic devices provides a convenient in vitro model for studying tumour spheroid structures and internal microenvironments. Recent studies suggest that oxygen deprived zones inside solid tumors are responsible for stimulating local cytokines and endothelial vasculature proliferation during angiogenesis. In this work, we develop an integrated approach combining microfluidic devices and multi-photon laser scanning microscopy (MPLSM) to study variations in oxygen tension within live spheroids of human osteosarcoma cells. Uniform shaped, size-controlled spheroids are grown and then harvested using a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) based microfluidic device. Fluorescence live imaging of the harvested spheroids is performed using MPLSM and a commercially available oxygen sensitive dye, Image-iT Red, to observe the oxygen tension variation within the spheroids and those co-cultured with monolayers of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Oxygen tension variations are observed within the spheroids with diameters ranging from 90 ± 10 μm to 140 ± 10 μm. The fluorescence images show that the low-oxygenated cores diminish when spheroids are co-cultured with HUVEC monolayers for 6 hours to 8 hours. In the experiments, spheroids subjected to HUVEC conditioned medium treatment and with a cell adherent substrate are also measured and analyzed to study their significance on oxygen tension within the spheroids. The results show that the oxygenation within the spheroids is improved when the spheroids are cultured under those conditions. Our work presents an efficient method to study oxygen tension variation within live tumor spheroids under the influence of endothelial cells and conditioned medium. The method can be exploited for further investigation of tumor oxygen microenvironments during angiogenesis.