Diffusion-induced anisotropic cancer invasion: A novel experimental method based on tumor spheroids

Rosalia Ferraro, Flora Ascione, Prashant Dogra, Vittorio Cristini, Stefano Guido, Sergio Caserta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Tumor invasion is strongly influenced by microenvironment and, among other parameters, chemical stimuli play an important role. An innovative methodology for the quantitative investigation of chemotaxis in vitro by live imaging of morphology of cell spheroids, in 3D collagen gel, is presented here. The assay was performed by using a chemotactic chamber to impose a controlled gradients of nutrients (glucose) on spheroids, mimicking the chemotactic stimuli naturally occurring in the proximity of blood vessels. Different tumoral cell lines (PANC-1 and HT-1080) are compared to non-tumoral ones (NIH/3T3). Morphology response is observed by means a Time-lapse workstation equipped with an incubating system and quantified by image analysis techniques. Description of invasion phenomena was based on an engineering approach, based on transport phenomena concepts. As expected, NIH/3T3 spheroids are characterized by a limited tendency of cells to invade the surrounding tissue, unlike PANC-1 and HT-1080 that show relatively stronger response to gradients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere17678
JournalAIChE Journal
Issue number7
Early online dateMar 6 2022
StateE-pub ahead of print - Mar 6 2022


  • chemotaxis
  • diffusional instability
  • time-lapse microscopy
  • transport phenomena
  • tumor spheroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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