Guided cell migration plays a crucial role in tumor metastasis, which is considered to be the major cause of death in cancer patients. Such behavior is regulated in part by micro/nanoscale topographical cues present in the parenchyma or stroma in the form of fiber-like and/or conduit-like structures (e.g., white matter tracts, blood/lymphatic vessels, subpial and subperitoneal spaces). In this paper we used soft lithography micromolding to develop a tissue culture polystyrene platform with a microscale surface pattern that was able to induce guided cell motility along/through fiber-/conduit-like structures. The migratory behaviors of primary (glioma) and metastatic (lung and colon) tumors excised from the brain were monitored via time-lapse microscopy at the single cell level. All the tumor cells exhibited axially persistent cell migration, with percentages of unidirectionally motile cells of 84.0 ± 3.5%, 58.3 ± 6.8% and 69.4 ± 5.4% for the glioma, lung, and colon tumor cells, respectively. Lung tumor cells showed the highest migratory velocities (41.8 ± 4.6 μm h−1) compared to glioma (24.0 ± 1.8 μm h−1) and colon (26.7 ± 2.8 μm h−1) tumor cells. This platform could potentially be used in conjunction with other biological assays to probe the mechanisms underlying the metastatic phenotype under guided cell migration conditions, and possibly by itself as an indicator of the effectiveness of treatments that target specific tumor cell motility behaviors.
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