BioScience Trends. 2011;5(1):10-16. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2011.v5.1.10)

Invasion of carcinoma cells into reconstituted type I collagen gels: Visual real-time analysis by time-lapse microscopy.

Sakai K, Kurokawa T, Furui Y, Kuronuma Y, Sekiguchi M, Ando J, Inagaki Y, Tang W, Nakata M, Fujita-Yamaguchi Y


Stromal-epithelial interactions play a critical role in promoting tumorigenesis and invasion. To obtain detailed information on cancer cell behaviors on the stroma and kinetics of cell migration, which cannot be observed by conventionally-used Boyden chamber assays, this study was aimed at analyzing the cell invasion process in vitro using time-lapse microscopic observation. Serum-free conditions and reconstituted type I collagen gels which provided a basal membrane-stroma-like microenvironment were used to first establish a basal condition. Time-lapse microscopic observation for 30 h of cell invasion into the collagen gel revealed kinetic parameters and individualistic behavior of cancer cells. Of breast cancer MDA-MB-231 or MCF-7 cells and colon cancer LS180 or HT29 cells examined, MDA-MB-231 cells most rapidly disappeared from the collagen gel surface under basal conditions. Estrogen-dependent MCF-7 cells disappeared at a rate approximately two times slower than that of MDA-MB-231 cells under serum- and phenol red-free conditions. By the addition of 10 nM β-estradiol to the basal medium, MCF-7 cell invasion was facilitated to a rate similar to that of MDA-MB-231 cells. Microscopic analyses of collagen gel-sections demonstrated that most of the MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 cells remained within 60 μm from the gel top under basal conditions, which is consistent with the observation obtained using Boyden chambers that no cells could cross the collagen I gel barrier unless 1% fetal calf serum was added to basal conditions. In summary, this study demonstrated future applicability of this method to understand the initial phase of cancer cell invasion processes.

KEYWORDS: Cancer cell invasion, reconstituted type I collagen gel, time-lapse microscopy, real-time analysis

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