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Hepatic setllate cells on poly(DL-lactic acid) surfaces control the formation of 3D hepatocyte co-culture aggregates in vitro

Thomas, R.J., Bennet, A., Thomson, B. and Shakesheff, K.M.

European Cells and Materials, aa, 16-26 (2006)

Evidence for the functional superiority of cells cultured as3D aggregates or on 3D scaffolds over conventional 2Dmonolayer cultures has created interest in material and cell based methods that influence the formation and structure of multicellular aggregates in vitro. We have created a coculture of primary rat hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells on a poly(DL-lactic acid) surface, a poor substrate for rat hepatocyte adhesion, to study the dynamics of multicellular spheroid formation and the resultant cell arrangement. The poly(DL-lactic acid) surface allows dynamic and rapid interaction of hepatocytes and stellate cells to form coculture spheroids in a complex multistage process (shown by time lapse microscopy). This spheroid morphology supports enhanced cell viability relative to a mono-culture mono-layer system (measured by lactate dehydrogenase leakage). The distribution of the aggregating cell type in the final structure is related to the mechanics of formation i.e. mainly central and peripheral. This study provides a unique and generically applicable insight into the dynamics of multicellular spheroid formation where aggregation is induced by one cell type and imposed on another. This has implications for 3D cell culture models and a wide number of currently used stromal co-culture systems.