An Engineered Human Adipose/Collagen Model for In Vitro Breast Cancer Cell Migration Studies.

17 May 2018

Adipocytes are one of the major stromal cell components of the human breast. These cells play a key role in the development of the gland and are implicated in breast tumorigenesis. Frequently, directional stromal collagen I fibers are found surrounding aggressive breast tumors. These fibers enhance breast cancer cell migration and are associated with poor patient prognosis. We sought to recapitulate these stromal components in vitro to provide a three-dimensional (3D) model comprising human adipose tissue and anisotropic collagen fibers. We developed a human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) cell line capable of undergoing differentiation into mature adipocytes by immortalizing hMSCs, isolated from breast reduction mammoplasties, through retroviral transduction. These immortalized hMSCs were seeded in engineered collagen I scaffolds with directional internal architecture, and adipogenesis was chemically induced, resulting in human adipose tissue being synthesized in vitro in an architectural structure associated with breast tumorigenesis. Subsequently, fluorescently labeled cells from an established breast cancer cell line were seeded into this model, cocultured for 7 days and imaged using multiphoton microscopy. Enhanced breast cancer cell migration was observed in the adipose-containing model over empty scaffold controls, demonstrating an adipocyte-mediated influence on breast cancer cell migration. Thus, this 3D in vitro model recapitulates the migratory effects of adipocytes observed on breast cancer cells and suggests that it could have utility with fresh breast tumor biopsies as an assay for cancer therapeutic efficacy in personalized medicine strategies.