MORPHOLOGICAL CHANGES TO BREAST CANCER CELLS INDUCED BY LONG-TERM CULTURE ON RIGID SUBSTRATES
Chiu, Evelyn Y
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Metastasis occurs when malignant cancer cells disseminate from a primary tumor and colonize a secondary site in the body. It is attributed to over 90% of all cancer-related deaths, and there is only a 27% 5-year survival rate for metastatic breast cancer as opposed to 99% for localized cancer. Tumorigenesis, which is the formation of tumors, is characterized by extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling and stiffening. While the characteristics regarding cancer formation are still largely unknown, the rigidity of the ECM is commonly accepted as an important regulatory factor for tumor invasion and metastasis, for an increase in ECM stiffness is proven to enhance cell growth and survival and promote migration. There has been many studies done on the correlation between ECM stiffness and cancer cell morphology. However, the impact of long-term culture on stiffness substrate remains unexplored, for most studies only culture the cells for up to 72 hours. In this study, we observe the morphological changes in breast cancer cell lines caused by long-term culture on substrates of varying rigidity. We find that although the correlation between cell area and substrate stiffness depends on the individual properties of each cell line, there is a general increase in elongation as culture time increases. Additionally, we found that the morphology of cells is elastic, for we observed changes in cell shape and area even after 4 weeks and 8 weeks of culturing. Finally, our data implies that the effect of substrate stiffness on cell morphology is dependent on the length of culturing time.