Dakhel S, Davies WIL, Joseph JV, Tomar T, Remeseiro S, Gunhaga L
BMC Mol Cell Biol 22 (1) 37 [2021-07-05; online 2021-07-05]
Organ culture models have been used over the past few decades to study development and disease. The in vitro three-dimensional (3D) culture system of organoids is well known, however, these 3D systems are both costly and difficult to culture and maintain. As such, less expensive, faster and less complex methods to maintain 3D cell culture models would complement the use of organoids. Chick embryos have been used as a model to study human biology for centuries, with many fundamental discoveries as a result. These include cell type induction, cell competence, plasticity and contact inhibition, which indicates the relevance of using chick embryos when studying developmental biology and disease mechanisms. Here, we present an updated protocol that enables time efficient, cost effective and long-term expansion of fetal organ spheroids (FOSs) from chick embryos. Utilizing this protocol, we generated FOSs in an anchorage-independent growth pattern from seven different organs, including brain, lung, heart, liver, stomach, intestine and epidermis. These three-dimensional (3D) structures recapitulate many cellular and structural aspects of their in vivo counterpart organs and serve as a useful developmental model. In addition, we show a functional application of FOSs to analyze cell-cell interaction and cell invasion patterns as observed in cancer. The establishment of a broad ranging and highly effective method to generate FOSs from different organs was successful in terms of the formation of healthy, proliferating 3D organ spheroids that exhibited organ-like characteristics. Potential applications of chick FOSs are their use in studies of cell-to-cell contact, cell fusion and tumor invasion under defined conditions. Future studies will reveal whether chick FOSs also can be applicable in scientific areas such as viral infections, drug screening, cancer diagnostics and/or tissue engineering.