Longitudinal Morphological and Physiological Monitoring of Three-dimensional Tumor Spheroids Using Optical Coherence Tomography

Yongyang Huang, Jinyun Zou, Mudabbir Badar, Junchao Liu, Wentao Shi, Shunqiang Wang, Qiongyu Guo, Xiaofang Wang, Sarah Kessel, Leo Li Ying Chan, Peter Li, Yaling Liu, Jean Qiu, Chao Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Tumor spheroids have been developed as a three-dimensional (3D) cell culture model in cancer research and anti-cancer drug discovery. However, currently, high-throughput imaging modalities utilizing bright field or fluorescence detection, are unable to resolve the overall 3D structure of the tumor spheroid due to limited light penetration, diffusion of fluorescent dyes and depth-resolvability. Recently, our lab demonstrated the use of optical coherence tomography (OCT), a label-free and non-destructive 3D imaging modality, to perform longitudinal characterization of multicellular tumor spheroids in a 96-well plate. OCT was capable of obtaining 3D morphological and physiological information of tumor spheroids growing up to about 600 µm in height. In this article, we demonstrate a high-throughput OCT (HT-OCT) imaging system that scans the whole multi-well plate and obtains 3D OCT data of tumor spheroids automatically. We describe the details of the HT-OCT system and construction guidelines in the protocol. From the 3D OCT data, one can visualize the overall structure of the spheroid with 3D rendered and orthogonal slices, characterize the longitudinal growth curve of the tumor spheroid based on the morphological information of size and volume, and monitor the growth of the dead-cell regions in the tumor spheroid based on optical intrinsic attenuation contrast. We show that HT-OCT can be used as a high-throughput imaging modality for drug screening as well as characterizing biofabricated samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere59020
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number144
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Cancer Research
  • Issue 144
  • OCT
  • antitumor drug screening assays
  • cellular spheroids
  • cultured tumor cells
  • high-throughput screening assays
  • optical coherence tomography
  • optical imaging
  • three-dimensional imaging


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