Primary glioma spheroids maintain tumourogenicity and essential phenotypic traits after cryopreservation

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Abstract

Tumour spheroids initiated from glioma biopsy specimens provide a valuable three-dimensional cell culture system that share several biological features of malignant brain tumours in situ. Upon xenotransplantation in immunodeficient rats, tumours derived from such spheroids exhibit a highly infiltrative growth. Successful cryopreservation of spheroid specimens therefore represents an excellent tool for future comparative studies of tumour growth and progression. Thus, if frozen stocks of human glioma spheroids can be established, similar to those obtained from cancer cell lines, it would ease the planning of biopsy-based experiments. In this context, it is crucial that cryopreservation does not alter the biological behaviour of the tumour spheroids. The biopsy spheroids were frozen to −40°C, stored for 1 week at −196°C, thawed rapidly and cultured for 1 week. The viability of the spheroids was compared against controls using a two-colour fluorescence assay, which demonstrated that cryopreservation was well tolerated. Using an in vitro invasion assay, it is shown that the freezing procedures did not affect the spheroids ability to invade a collagen gel. Cryopreserved and control tumour spheroids were equally tumourogenic, and produced overlapping survival curves when transplanted into the brains of immunocompromised rats. Immunohistochemical analyses showed no significant changes regarding microvessel density or proliferation index. Furthermore, gene expression profiling using a macroarray system detected no significant changes following cryopreservation. The present data show that cryopreservation is well tolerated, and represent a methodologically reliable storage method for biopsy spheroids that can be used in experimental studies at later time points.

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