Invasion and secondary site colonization as a function of in vitro primary tumor matrix stiffness: breast to bone metastasis

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Abstract

Increased breast tissue stiffness is correlated with breast cancer risk and invasive cancer progression. However, its role in promoting bone metastasis, a major cause of mortality, is not yet understood. We previously identified that composition and stiffness of alginate-based hydrogels mimicking normal (1-2 kPa) and cancerous (6-10 kPa) breast tissue governs phenotype of breast cancer cells (including MDA-MB-231) in vitro. Here, to understand the causal effect of primary tumor stiffness on metastatic potential, we describe a new breast-to-bone in vitro model. Together with alginate-gelatin hydrogels to mimic breast tissue, 3D printed biohybrid poly-caprolactone (PCL)-composite scaffolds, decellularized following bone-ECM deposition through Saos-2 engraftment, are used to mimic the bone tissue. We report that higher hydrogel stiffness results in the increased migration and invasion capacity of MDA-MB 231 cells. Interestingly, increased expression of osteolytic factors PTHrP and IL-6 is observed when MDA-MB-231 cells pre-conditioned in stiffer hydrogels (10 kPa, 3% w/v gelatin) colonize the bone/PCL scaffolds. The new breast-to-bone in vitro models herein described are designed with relevant tissue microenvironmental factors and could emerge as future non-animal technological platforms for monitoring metastatic processes and therapeutic efficacy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Oct 2022

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