3D porous chitosan–alginate scaffolds promote proliferation and enrichment of cancer stem-like cells
Cancer stem cells are increasingly becoming a primary target for new cancer treatment development. The ability to study their transient behavior in vitro will provide the opportunity for high-throughput testing of more effective therapies. We have previously demonstrated the use of 3D porous chitosan–alginate (CA) scaffolds to promote cancer stem-like cell (CSC) proliferation and enrichment in glioblastoma. Here we use 3D porous CA scaffolds to promote cancer stem-like cell enrichment in cell lines from prostate, liver, and breast cancers, and investigate the proliferation, morphology, and gene expressions of cells cultured in CA scaffolds as compared to 2D controls. The 3D CA scaffold cultures for all three cancer types showed reduced proliferation, formation of tumor spheroids, and increased expression of CSC associated mark genes (CD133 and NANOG), as opposed to monolayers. Additionally, we present a putative mechanism for the cancer stem-like cell enrichment on CA scaffolds. This study demonstrates that the cancer stem-like cell enrichment in CA scaffolds is a robust process that is not restricted to particular cancer types.