A three-dimensional (3D) cell culture system provides an effective platform to study cell dynamics in in vivo-mimicking conditions and thus plays an important role in understanding cell biology, organ function, and disease model. This dissertation investigates cell dynamics in a variety of 3D environments including solid and liquid matrix. We study cell dynamics in 3D hydrogel microparticles and show that cells exhibit significant differences with that from 2D monolayer culture, including cell cycle, survival, morphology and the sensitivity to inflammation. We further develop a 3D printed cell-laden hybrid hydrogel construct to investigate colon cancer cell dynamics in physiologically relevant bowel environment. Such system enables in vivo-mimicking cell environment and offers an effective platform to uncover inflammation mechanisms in bowel area. Long-term cell culture in 3D solid matrix, however, is challenged by nutrient delivering problems. We thus engineer a novel leaf-inspired artificial microvascular network to support the long-term cell growth. Apart from the 3D solid environment, we also investigate cell dynamics cultured in 3D fluidic environment and study the regulatory roles of shear stress in circulating cancer cells. Cancer cells are circulated in suspension for mimicking cancer metastasis through blood stream and a previously unrecognized role of circulatory shear stress in regulating cancer cell dynamics is revealed. The research presented in this dissertation introduces a comprehensive study of cell dynamics in 3D environments and paves a new avenue to establish physiologically relevant model systems for tissue engineering and artificial functional organs.
Microsystems Engineering (Ph.D.)
Department, Program, or Center
Microsystems Engineering (KGCOE)
Fan, Rong, "Cell Dynamics in Three-dimensional (3D) Culture Environments" (2017). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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