Three-dimensional prostate tumor model based on a hyaluronic acid-alginate hydrogel for evaluation of anti-cancer drug efficacy

Yadong Tang, Boxin Huang, Yuqin Dong, Wenlong Wang, Xi Zheng, Wei Zhou, Kun Zhang, Zhiyun Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


In vitro cell-based assays are widely applied to evaluate anti-cancer drug efficacy. However, the conventional approaches are mostly based on two-dimensional (2D) culture systems, making it difficult to recapitulate the in vivo tumor scenario because of spatial limitations. Here, we develop an in vitro three-dimensional (3D) prostate tumor model based on a hyaluronic acid (HA)-alginate hybrid hydrogel to bridge the gap between in vitro and in vivo anticancer drug evaluations. In situ encapsulation of PCa cells was achieved by mixing HA and alginate aqueous solutions in the presence of cells and then crosslinking with calcium ions. Unlike in 2D culture, cells were found to aggregate into spheroids in a 3D matrix. The expression of epithelial to mesenchyme transition (EMT) biomarkers was found to be largely enhanced, indicating an increased invasion and metastasis potential in the hydrogel matrix. A significant up-regulation of proangiogenic growth factors (IL-8, VEGF) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) was observed in 3D-cultured PCa cells. The results of anti-cancer drug evaluation suggested a higher drug tolerance within the 3D tumor model compared to conventional 2D-cultured cells. Finally, we found that the drug effect within the in vitro 3D cancer model based on HA-alginate matrix exhibited better predictability for in vivo drug efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1603-1616
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition
Issue number14
StatePublished - Sep 22 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


  • Three-dimensional model
  • alginate
  • drug efficacy
  • hyaluronic acid
  • prostate cancer


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