High-content analysis of tumour cell invasion in three-dimensional spheroid assays

Vinton Cheng, Filomena Esteves, Aruna Chakrabarty, Julia Cockle, Susan Short, Anke Brüning-Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Targeting infiltrating tumour cells is an attractive way of combating cancer invasion and metastasis. Here we describe a novel and reproducible method for high content analysis of invading cells using multicellular tumour spheroid assays in a high grade glioma model. Live cell imaging of spheroids generated from glioma cell lines, U87 and U251, gave insight into migration dynamics and cell morphology in response to anti-migratory drugs. Immunofluorescence imaging confirmed cytoskeletal rearrangements in the treated cells indicating a direct effect on cell morphology. Effect on migration was determined by a Migration Index (MI) from brightfield images which confirmed anti-migratory activity of the drugs. A marked effect on the core with treatment suggestive of disordered proliferation was also observed. A newly developed technique to prepare the spheroids and migratory cells for immunohistochemistry allowed an assessment of response to drug treatment with a selection of markers. A difference in protein expression was noted between cells maintained within the core and migratory cells indicative of the presence of cell subpopulations within the spheroid core. We conclude that this high content analysis allows researchers to perform screening of anti-tumour invasion compounds and study their effects on cellular dynamics, particularly in relation to protein expression, for the first time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-606
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


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