Research Papers:

An improved method for culturing patient-derived colorectal cancer spheroids

Hiroyuki Miyoshi, Hisatsugu Maekawa, Fumihiko Kakizaki, Tadayoshi Yamaura, Kenji Kawada, Yoshiharu Sakai and M. Mark Taketo _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:21950-21964. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25134

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Hiroyuki Miyoshi1,3, Hisatsugu Maekawa1,2, Fumihiko Kakizaki1, Tadayoshi Yamaura1,2, Kenji Kawada2, Yoshiharu Sakai2 and M. Mark Taketo1,3

1Division of Experimental Therapeutics, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Konoé-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan

2Department of Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Shogoin-Kawahara-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan

3Office of Society-Academia Collaboration for Innovation, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan

Correspondence to:

M. Mark Taketo, email: [email protected]

Keywords: colorectal cancer; spheroid; chemical screening; cancer stem cell; tumor-initiating cell

Received: December 21, 2017    Accepted: March 28, 2018    Published: April 24, 2018


Recent advances allowed culturing and examination of patient-derived colorectal cancer (PD-CRC) cells as organoids or spheroids. To be applied to practical personalized medicine, however, current methods still need to be strengthened for higher efficiency. Here we report an improved method to propagate PD-CRC tumor initiating cells (TICs) in spheroid culture. We established > 100 cancer spheroid lines derived from independent colorectal cancer patients employing a serum-containing medium with additional inhibitors, Y27632 and SB431542. Because colorectal cancer spheroids showed wide-range growth rates depending on the patient tumors, we searched for supplementary factors that accelerated proliferation of slow-growing CRC-TIC spheroids. To this end, we introduced a convenient growth-monitoring method using a luciferase reporter. We found that epidermal growth factor (EGF) and/or basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) were critical for steady propagation of a subset of CRC-TIC spheroids carrying the wild-type RAS and RAF genes. We also identified 5′-(N-ethyl-carboxamido)-adenosine (NECA), an adenosine receptor agonist, as an essential supplement for another subset of spheroids. Based on these results, we propose to optimize culture conditions for CRC-TIC spheroids by adjusting to the respective tumor samples. Our method provides a versatile tool that can be applied to personalized chemotherapy evaluation in prospective clinical studies.

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