Multicellular Tumor Spheroids (MCTS) as a 3D In Vitro Evaluation Tool of Nanoparticles

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Journal Article
Small, 2018, 14 (13)
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© 2018 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim Multicellular tumor spheroid models (MCTS) are often coined as 3D in vitro models that can mimic the microenvironment of tissues. MCTS have gained increasing interest in the nano-biotechnology field as they can provide easily accessible information on the performance of nanoparticles without using animal models. Considering that many countries have put restrictions on animals testing, which will only tighten in the future as seen by the recent developments in the Netherlands, 3D models will become an even more valuable tool. Here, an overview on MCTS is provided, focusing on their use in cancer research as most nanoparticles are tested in MCTS for treatment of primary tumors. Thereafter, various types of nanoparticles—from self-assembled block copolymers to inorganic nanoparticles, are discussed. A range of physicochemical parameters including the size, shape, surface chemistry, ligands attachment, stability, and stiffness are found to influence nanoparticles in MCTS. Some of these studies are complemented by animal studies confirming that lessons from MCTS can in part predict the behaviour in vivo. In summary, MCTS are suitable models to gain additional information on nanoparticles. While not being able to replace in vivo studies, they can bridge the gap between traditional 2D in vitro studies and in vivo models.
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