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Establishment of Slice Cultures as a Tool to Study the Cancer Immune Microenvironment

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Cancer Immunosurveillance

Part of the book series: Methods in Molecular Biology ((MIMB,volume 1884))


Although immunotherapy is currently being widely applied to treat a variety of cancers, there is great heterogeneity in the response to these treatments. Many in the field hypothesize that this may be attributable to the characteristics of each individual tumor immune microenvironment, in addition to systemic immune factors. Therefore, understanding the immune cell microenvironment in a variety of tumors is critically important. Specifically, the interactions among immune, stromal, and cancer cells, along with other factors in tumors, may hold the key to developing rational personalized combinations of immunotherapeutic drugs. We recently developed an organotypic slice culture technique, which enables precise study of the pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) tumor microenvironment. We used a Vibratome to cut fresh human tumor tissue into 250 μm thick slices, and cultured slices on cell culture inserts with 0.4 μm pore to produce our tumor slice culture (TSC) system. We showed that TSC maintained many elements of the original tumor microenvironment and architecture for approximately one week. Using this slice culture technique for PDA, we demonstrated that immune cells, including T cells and macrophages, cancer cells, and stromal myofibroblasts were present throughout the culture period. TSCs were functionally responsive to drug treatment. Live PDA slices could be stained for multicolor immunofluorescence imaging of each of the primary cellular constituents of the tumor. Finally, autologous CFSE-labeled splenocytes were observed to readily migrate into cocultured tumor slices.

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This work was supported by generous funding from Swim Across America (VGP) and the University of Washington Department of Surgery Research Reinvestment Fund (VGP).

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Correspondence to Venu G. Pillarisetty .

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Jiang, X., Seo, Y.D., Sullivan, K.M., Pillarisetty, V.G. (2019). Establishment of Slice Cultures as a Tool to Study the Cancer Immune Microenvironment. In: López-Soto, A., Folgueras, A. (eds) Cancer Immunosurveillance. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1884. Humana Press, New York, NY.

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  • Publisher Name: Humana Press, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4939-8884-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4939-8885-3

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