Facile Tumor Spheroids Formation in Large Quantity with Controllable Size and High Uniformity

Wentao Shi, Jean Kwon, Yongyang Huang, Jifu Tan, Christopher G. Uhl, Ran He, Chao Zhou, Yaling Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


A facile method for generation of tumor spheroids in large quantity with controllable size and high uniformity is presented. HCT-116 cells are used as a model cell line. Individual tumor cells are sparsely seeded onto petri-dishes. After a few days of growth, separated cellular islets are formed and then detached by dispase while maintaining their sheet shape. These detached cell sheets are transferred to dispase-doped media under orbital shaking conditions. Assisted by the shear flow under shaking and inhibition of cell-to-extracellular matrix junctions by dispase, the cell sheets curl up and eventually tumor spheroids are formed. The average size of the spheroids can be controlled by tuning the cell sheet culturing period and spheroid shaking period. The uniformity can be controlled by a set of sieves which were home-made using stainless steel meshes. Since this method is based on simple petri-dish cell culturing and shaking, it is rather facile for forming tumor spheroids with no theoretical quantity limit. This method has been used to form HeLa, A431 and U87 MG tumor spheroids and application of the formed tumor spheroids in drug screening is also demonstrated. The viability, 3D structure, and necrosis of the spheroids are characterized.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6837
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


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