Innovative approaches to establish and characterize primary cultures: An ex vivo 3D system and the zebrafish model

Chiara Liverani, Federico La Manna, Arwin Groenewoud, Laura Mercatali, Gabri Van Der Pluijm, Federica Pieri, Davide Cavaliere, Alessandro De Vita, Chiara Spadazzi, Giacomo Miserocchi, Alberto Bongiovanni, Federica Recine, Nada Riva, Dino Amadori, Ennio Tasciotti, Ewa Snaar-Jagalska, Toni Ibrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Patient-derived specimens are an invaluable resource to investigate tumor biology. However, in vivo studies on primary cultures are often limited by the small amount of material available, while conventional in vitro systems might alter the features and behavior that characterize cancer cells. We present our data obtained on primary dedifferentiated liposarcoma cells cultured in a 3D scaffold-based system and injected into a zebrafish model. Primary cells were characterized in vitro for their morphological features, sensitivity to drugs and biomarker expression, and in vivo for their engraftment and invasiveness abilities. The 3D culture showed a higher enrichment in cancer cells than the standard monolayer culture and a better preservation of liposarcoma-Associated markers. We also successfully grafted primary cells into zebrafish, showing their local migratory and invasive abilities. Our work provides proof of concept of the ability of 3D cultures to maintain the original phenotype of ex vivo cells, and highlights the potential of the zebrafish model to provide a versatile in vivo system for studies with limited biological material. Such models could be used in translational research studies for biomolecular analyses, drug screenings and tumor aggressiveness assays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalBiology Open
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2017


  • Collagen scaffolds
  • Near-patient models
  • Primary cultures
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Innovative approaches to establish and characterize primary cultures: An ex vivo 3D system and the zebrafish model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this