In situ paper-based 3D cell culture for rapid screening of the anti-melanogenic activity
Recently, paper has gained traction in the biotechnology research field due to its ability to be a substrate for 3D cell culture. In this work, we demonstrate the application of paper-based 3D cell culture for rapid and easy screening of the effect of natural compounds on melanin production. Whatman No. 1 filter paper was used as the substrate for B16F10 melanoma cell culture. The use of paper is beneficial for supporting the 3D structure of cells, which makes the result more reliable due to the similarity to in vivo conditions. Furthermore, paper is beneficial for melanin observation due to melanin's black color, which is easily in situ visualized after it is cultured on white paper. Matrigel was used to encapsulate cells before being pipetted onto the paper to prevent the passing of cells through paper pores. The intensity of melanin can then be observed with the naked eye and analyzed by scanning the paper. The analysis process took only 20 minutes, which is faster than that of the conventional absorbance spectroscopy, owing to the elimination of centrifugation, melanin solubilization, and the absorbance measurement step. The color intensity on the paper showed a direct proportion with increased α-MSH concentrations, confirming that the color on the paper was melanin. The 3D structure of cells was confirmed by using a scanning electron microscope. To demonstrate the application of the paper-based scaffold, paper-based 3D cell culture was used for screening the effects of Kojic acid and Arbutin on melanin production, which showed increased anti-melanogenesis effects with increased concentrations of natural compounds. High cell viability was observed over 120 hours. In conclusion, the developed paper-based scaffold can be used for screening the effect of natural compounds on melanin production, as a rapid and simple method with low cost.