Three-dimensional growth patterns of various human tumor cell lines in simulated microgravity of a NASA bioreactor

  • M. Ingram
  • G. B. Techy
  • R. Saroufeem
  • O. Yazan
  • K. S. Narayan
  • T. J. Goodwin
  • G. F. Spaulding
Cellular Models


Growth patterns of a number of human tumor cell lines that form three-dimensional structures of various architectures when cultured without carrier beads in a NASA rotary cell culture system are described and illustrated. The culture system, which was designed to mimic microgravity, maintained cells in suspension under very low-shear stress throughout culture. Spheroid (particulate) production occurred within a few hours after culture was started, and spheroids increased in size by cell division and fusion of small spheroids, usually stabilizing at a spheroid diameter of about 0.5 mm. Architecture of spheroids varied with cell type. Cellular interactions that occurred in spheroids resulted in conformation and shape changes of cells, and some cell lines produced complex, epithelial-like architectures. Expression of the cell adhesion molecules, CD44 and E cadherin, was upregulated in the three-dimensional constructs. Coculture of fibroblast spheroids with PC3 prostate cancer cells induced tenascin expression by the fibroblasts underlying the adherent prostate epithelial cells. Invasion of the fibroblast spheroids by the malignant epithelium was also demonstrated.

Key words

spheroid architecture suspension culture low-shear culture 


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Copyright information

© Society for In Vitro Biology 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Ingram
    • 1
  • G. B. Techy
    • 1
  • R. Saroufeem
    • 1
  • O. Yazan
    • 1
  • K. S. Narayan
    • 1
  • T. J. Goodwin
    • 2
  • G. F. Spaulding
    • 3
  1. 1.Huntington Medical Research InstitutesPasadena
  2. 2.L. B. Johnson Space CenterHouston
  3. 3.Clear Lake Medical Foundation, Inc.Houston

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