Investigating Programmed Cell Death and Tumor Invasion in a Three-Dimensional (3D) Microfluidic Model of Glioblastoma




Samiei, Ehsan
Seyfoori, Amir
Toyota, Brian
Ghavami, Saeid
Akbari, Mohsen

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International Journal of Molecular Sciences


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a rapidly progressive and deadly form of brain tumor with a median survival rate of ~15 months. GBMs are hard to treat and significantly affect the patient’s physical and cognitive abilities and quality of life. Temozolomide (TMZ)—an alkylating agent that causes DNA damage—is the only chemotherapy choice for the treatment of GBM. However, TMZ also induces autophagy and causes tumor cell resistance and thus fails to improve the survival rate among patients. Here, we studied the drug-induced programmed cell death and invasion inhibition capacity of TMZ and a mevalonate cascade inhibitor, simvastatin (Simva), in a three-dimensional (3D) microfluidic model of GBM. We elucidate the role of autophagy in apoptotic cell death by comparing apoptosis in autophagy knockdown cells (Atg7 KD) against their scrambled counterparts. Our results show that the cells were significantly less sensitive to drugs in the 3D model as compared to monolayer culture systems. An immunofluorescence analysis confirmed that apoptosis is the mechanism of cell death in TMZ- and Simva-treated glioma cells. However, the induction of apoptosis in the 3D model is significantly lower than in monolayer cultures. We have also shown that autophagy inhibition (Atg7 KD) did not change TMZ and Simva-induced apoptosis in the 3D microfluidic model. Overall, for the first time in this study we have established the simultaneous detection of drug induced apoptosis and autophagy in a 3D microfluidic model of GBM. Our study presents a potential ex vivo platform for developing novel therapeutic strategies tailored toward disrupting key molecular pathways involved in programmed cell death and tumor invasion in glioblastoma.



tumor on a chip, blioblastoma, apoptosis, autophagy, cell phenotype, invasion


Samiei, E., Seyfoori, A., Toyota, B., Ghavami, S., & Akbari, M. (2020). Investigating programmed cell death and tumor invasion in a three-dimensional (3D) microfluidic model of glioblastoma. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(9).