Optical projection tomography as a quantitative tool for analysis of cell morphology and density in 3D hydrogels

Birhanu Belay, Janne T. Koivisto, Jenny Parraga, Olli Koskela, Toni Montonen, Minna Kellomäki, Edite Figueiras, Jari Hyttinen

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    Assessing cell morphology and function, as well as biomaterial performance in cell cultures, is one of the key challenges in cell biology and tissue engineering (TE) research. In TE, there is an urgent need for methods to image actual three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures and access the living cells. This is difficult using established optical microscopy techniques such as wide-field or confocal microscopy. To address the problem, we have developed a new protocol using Optical Projection Tomography (OPT) to extract quantitative and qualitative measurements from hydrogel cell cultures. Using our tools, we demonstrated the method by analyzing cell response in three different hydrogel formulations in 3D with 1.5 mm diameter samples of: gellan gum (GG), gelatin functionalized gellan gum (gelatin-GG), and Geltrex. We investigated cell morphology, density, distribution, and viability in 3D living cells. Our results showed the usability of the method to quantify the cellular responses to biomaterial environment. We observed that an elongated morphology of cells, thus good material response, in gelatin-GG and Geltrex hydrogels compared with basic GG. Our results show that OPT has a sensitivity to assess in real 3D cultures the differences of cellular responses to the properties of biomaterials supporting the cells.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number6538
    JournalScientific Reports
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2021
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Publication forum classification

    • Publication forum level 1

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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