Novel 3d µtissues mimicking the fibrotic stroma in pancreatic cancer to study cellular interactions and stroma-modulating therapeutics

Kunal P. Pednekar, Marcel A. Heinrich, Joop van Baarlen, Jai Prakash*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly aggressive tumor type with low patient survival due to the low efficacy of current treatment options. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in the tumor microenvironment (TME) create a dense fibrotic environment around the tumor cells, preventing therapies from reaching their target. Novel 3D in vitro models are needed that mimic this fibrotic barrier for the development of therapies in a biologically relevant environment. Here, novel PDAC microtissues (µtissues) consisting of pancreatic cancer cell core surrounded by a CAF-laden collagen gel are presented, that is based on the cells own contractility to form a hard-to-penetrate barrier. The contraction of CAFs is demonstrated facilitating the embedding of tumor cells in the center of the µtissue as observed in patients. The µtissues displayed a PDAC-relevant gene expression by comparing their gene profile with transcriptomic patient data. Furthermore, the CAF-dependent proliferation of cancer cells is presented, as well as the suitability of the µtissues to serve as a platform for the screening of CAF-modulating therapies in combination with other (nano)therapies. It is envisioned that these PDAC µtissues can serve as a high-throughput platform for studying cellular interactions in PDAC and for evaluating different treatment strategies in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5006
JournalCancers
Volume13
Issue number19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • 3D in-vitro model
  • 3D µtissues
  • Cancer-associated fibroblasts
  • Cell contraction
  • Collagen hydrogel
  • Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
  • Primary pancreatic stellate cells
  • Tumor microenvironment
  • UT-Gold-D

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