Three-dimensional tissue culture based on magnetic cell levitation

Glauco R. Souza, Jennifer R Molina, Robert M. Raphael, Michael G. Ozawa, Daniel J. Stark, Carly S Levin, Lawrence F. Bronk, Jeyarama S. Ananta, Jami Mandelin, Maria-Magdalena Georgescu, James A. Bankson, Juri G. Gelovani, T C Killian, Wadih Arap, Renata Pasqualini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

501 Scopus citations


Cell culture is an essential tool in drug discovery, tissue engineering and stem cell research. Conventional tissue culture produces two-dimensional cell growth with gene expression, signalling and morphology that can be different from those found in vivo, and this compromises its clinical relevance. Here, we report a three-dimensional tissue culture based on magnetic levitation of cells in the presence of a hydrogel consisting of gold, magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and filamentous bacteriophage. By spatially controlling the magnetic field, the geometry of the cell mass can be manipulated, and multicellular clustering of different cell types in co-culture can be achieved. Magnetically levitated human glioblastoma cells showed similar protein expression profiles to those observed in human tumour xenografts. Taken together, these results indicate that levitated three-dimensional culture with magnetized phage-based hydrogels more closely recapitulates in vivo protein expression and may be more feasible for long-term multicellular studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-6
Number of pages6
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Astrocytes
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide
  • Glioblastoma
  • Gold
  • Humans
  • Hydrogel
  • Inovirus
  • Magnetics
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Proteins
  • Tissue Culture Techniques
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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