Formation of multicellular tumor spheroids induced by cyclic RGD-peptides and use for anticancer drug testingin vitro

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Graphical abstractDevelopment of novel anticancer formulations is a priority challenge in biomedicine. However, in vitro models based on monolayer cultures (2D) which are currently used for cytotoxicity tests leave much to be desired. More and more attention is focusing on 3D in vitro systems which can better mimic solid tumors. The aim of the study was to develop a novel one-step highly reproducible technique for multicellular tumor spheroid (MTS) formation using synthetic cyclic RGD-peptides, and to demonstrate availability of the spheroids as 3D in vitro model for antitumor drug testing. Cell self-assembly effect induced by addition of both linear and cyclic RGD-peptides directly to monolayer cultures was studied for 12 cell lines of various origins, including tumor cells (e.i. U-87 MG, MCF-7, M-3, HCT-116) and normal cells, in particular L-929, BNL.CL2, HepG2. Cyclo-RGDfK and its modification with triphenylphosphonium cation (TPP), namely cyclo-RGDfK(TPP) in a range of 10–100 μM were found to induce spheroid formation. The obtained spheroids were unimodal with mean sizes in a range of 60–120 μm depending on cell line and serum content in culture medium. The spheroids were used as 3D in vitro model, in order to evaluate cytotoxicity effects of antitumor drugs (doxorubicin, curcumin, temozolomide). The developed technique could be proposed as a promising tool for in vitro test of novel antitumor drugs.

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