Skip to main content
Log in

Method for the generation and cultivation of functional three-dimensional mammary constructs without exogenous extracellular matrix

  • Short Communication
  • Published:
Cell and Tissue Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


During puberty, pregnancy, lactation and post-lactation, breast tissue undergoes extensive remodelling and the disruption of these events can lead to cancer. In vitro studies of mammary tissue and its malignant transformation regularly employ mammary epithelial cells cultivated on matrigel or floating collagen rafts. In these cultures, mammary epithelial cells assemble into three-dimensional structures resembling in vivo acini. We present a novel technique for generating functional mammary constructs without the use of matrix substitutes.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Blatchford DR, Quarrie LH, Tonner E, McCarthy C, Flint DJ, Wilde CJ (1999) Influence of microenvironment on mammary epithelial cell survival in primary culture. J Cell Physiol 181:304–311

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boudreau N, Myers C, Bissell MJ (1995) From laminin to lamin: regulation of tissue-specific gene expression by the ECM. Trends Cell Biol 5:1–4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Debnath J, Muthuswamy SK, Brugge JS (2003) Morphogenesis and oncogenesis of MCF-10A mammary epithelial acini grown in three-dimensional basement membrane cultures. Methods 30:256–268

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • El-Sabban ME, Sfeir AJ, Daher MH, Kalaany NY, Bassam RA, Talhouk RS (2003) ECM-induced gap junctional communication enhances mammary epithelial cell differentiation. J Cell Sci 116:3531–3541

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ip MM, Darcy KM (1996) Three-dimensional mammary primary culture model systems. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia 1:91–110

    Google Scholar 

  • Jolivet G, Meusnier C, Chaumaz G, Houdebine LM (2001) Extracellular matrix regulates alpha s1-casein gene expression in rabbit primary mammary cells and CCAAT enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) binding activity. J Cell Biochem 82:371–386

    Google Scholar 

  • Kelm JM, Timmins NE, Brown CJ, Fussenegger M, Nielsen LK (2003) Method for generation of homogeneous multicellular tumor spheroids applicable to a wide variety of cell types. Biotechnol Bioeng 83:173–180

    Google Scholar 

  • Park CC, Bissell MJ, Barcellos-Hoff MH (2000) The influence of the microenvironment on the malignant phenotype. Mol Med Today 6:324–329

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Parkin DM (2001) Global cancer statistics in the year 2000. Lancet Oncol 2:533–543

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Petersen OW, Ronnov-Jessen L, Howlett AR, Bissell MJ (1992) Interaction with basement membrane serves to rapidly distinguish growth and differentiation pattern of normal and malignant human breast epithelial cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 89:9064–9068

    Google Scholar 

  • Pullan S, Streuli C (1996) The mammary gland epithelial cell. In: Harris A (ed) Epithelial cell culture. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 97–121

    Google Scholar 

  • Taddei I, Faraldo MM, Teuliere J, Deugnier MA, Thiery JP, Glukhova MA (2003) Integrins in mammary gland development and differentiation of mammary epithelium. J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia 8:383–394

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wiseman BS, Werb Z (2002) Stromal effects on mammary gland development and breast cancer. Science 296:1046–1049

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to L. K. Nielsen.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Timmins, N.E., Harding, F.J., Smart, C. et al. Method for the generation and cultivation of functional three-dimensional mammary constructs without exogenous extracellular matrix. Cell Tissue Res 320, 207–210 (2005).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: