Influence of a three-dimensional, microarray environment on human Cell culture in drug screening systems

Luciana Meli, Eric T. Jordan, Douglas S. Clark, Robert J. Linhardt, Jonathan S. Dordick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


We have used a modified 3D cellular microarray platform for the high-throughput analysis of growth, cytotoxicity, and protein expression profile of a human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line, HepG2, in alginate. The results obtained were compared to analogous studies in 2D and 3D environments at the microtiter scale. The antiproliferative effects of four drugs, tamoxifen, 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin, and amitriptyline, were studied as a function of seeding density in the three different culture platforms. The chemosensitivity of HepG2 cells to all four compounds decreased substantially with increasing cell number in the 2D and 3D microtiter-based cultures, while no seeding density dependence was observed in the IC50 values obtained in the 3D microarray culture platform. These results can be rationalized based on the development of confluence-dependent resistance in cultures where proliferation is restricted by cell-cell contacts and nutrient availability, as is the case for both of the microtiter-based cultures. Additionally, further development of an on-chip, in-cell immunofluorescence assay provided quantitative data on the levels of specific target proteins involved in proliferation, adhesion, angiogenesis and drug metabolism, and was used to compare expression profiles between 2D and 3D environments. The up-regulation of several CYP450 enzymes, β1-integrin and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the 3D microarray cultures suggests that this platform provides a more in vivo-like environment allowing cells to approach their natural phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9087-9096
Number of pages10
Issue number35
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D cell culture
  • Drug resistance
  • High-throughput
  • Microarray


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