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Open AccessArticle

A Novel Ex Vivo System Using 3D Polymer Scaffold to Culture Circulating Tumor Cells from Breast Cancer Patients Exhibits Dynamic E-M Phenotypes

1
Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India
2
Department of Medical Oncology, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bangalore 560029, India
3
Center for Biosystems Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India
4
Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University Health System, MD9-04-11, 2 Medical Drive, Singapore 117593, Singapore
5
Department of Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560066, India
6
Institute of Bioinformatics, International Technology Park, Bangalore 560066, India
7
Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal 576104, Karnataka, India
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8(9), 1473; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm8091473
Received: 13 July 2019 / Revised: 9 August 2019 / Accepted: 9 August 2019 / Published: 16 September 2019
The majority of the cancer-associated deaths is due to metastasis—the spread of tumors to other organs. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs), which are shed from the primary tumor into the circulation, serve as precursors of metastasis. CTCs have now gained much attention as a new prognostic and diagnostic marker, as well as a screening tool for patients with metastatic disease. However, very little is known about the biology of CTCs in cancer metastasis. An increased understanding of CTC biology, their heterogeneity, and interaction with other cells can help towards a better understanding of the metastatic process, as well as identify novel drug targets. Here we present a novel ex vivo 3D system for culturing CTCs from breast cancer patient blood samples using porous poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) scaffolds. As a proof of principle study, we show that ex vivo culture of 12/16 (75%) advanced stage breast cancer patient blood samples were enriched for CTCs identified as CK+ (cytokeratin positive) and CD45− (CD45 negative) cells. The deposition of extracellular matrix proteins on the PCL scaffolds permitted cellular attachment to these scaffolds. Detection of Ki-67 and bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) positive cells revealed proliferating cell population in the 3D scaffolds. The CTCs cultured without prior enrichment exhibited dynamic differences in epithelial (E) and mesenchymal (M) composition. Thus, our 3D PCL scaffold system offers a physiologically relevant model to be used for studying CTC biology as well as for individualized testing of drug susceptibility. Further studies are warranted for longitudinal monitoring of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) in CTCs for clinical association. View Full-Text
Keywords: circulating tumor cells (CTCs); breast cancer; 3D culture; epithelial-mesenchymal heterogeneity circulating tumor cells (CTCs); breast cancer; 3D culture; epithelial-mesenchymal heterogeneity
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De, T.; Goyal, S.; Balachander, G.; Chatterjee, K.; Kumar, P.; Babu K., G.; Rangarajan, A. A Novel Ex Vivo System Using 3D Polymer Scaffold to Culture Circulating Tumor Cells from Breast Cancer Patients Exhibits Dynamic E-M Phenotypes. J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8, 1473.

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