Enrichment of cancer stem cell-like cells by culture in alginate gel beads
•We established a 3D model capable of enriching cancer stem cells.•Cancer cells in 3D alginate gel display higher drug-resistant and invasive ability.•The model is easy to reproduce, convenient to handle, and amenable for large-scale.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are most likely the reason of cancer reoccurrence and metastasis. For further elucidation of the mechanism underlying the characteristics of CSCs, it is necessary to develop efficient culture systems to culture and expand CSCs. In this study, a three-dimensional (3D) culture system based on alginate gel (ALG) beads was reported to enrich CSCs. Two cell lines derived from different histologic origins were encapsulated in ALG beads respectively and the expansion of CSCs was investigated. Compared with two-dimensional (2D) culture, the proportion of cells with CSC-like phenotypes was significantly increased in ALG beads. Expression levels of CSC-related genes were greater in ALG beads than in 2D culture. The increase of CSC proportion after being cultured within ALG beads was further confirmed by enhanced tumorigenicity in vivo. Moreover, increased metastasis ability and higher anti-cancer drug resistance were also observed in 3D-cultured cells. Furthermore, we found that it was hypoxia, through the upregulation of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) that occurred in ALG beads to induce the increasing of CSC proportion. Therefore, ALG bead was an efficient culture system for CSC enrichment, which might provide a useful platform for CSC research and promote the development of new anti-cancer therapies targeting CSCs.
Journal: Journal of Biotechnology - Volume 177, 10 May 2014, Pages 1–12