Gathering precise information on mass density, size and weight of cells or cell aggregates, is crucial for applications in many biomedical fields with a specific focus on cancer research. Although few technical solutions have been presented for single-cell analysis, literature does not cover this aspect for 3D models such as spheroids. Since the research interest on such samples is notably rising, here we describe a flow-apparatus, and the associated physical method and operative protocol for the accurate measurements of mass density, size and weight. The technique is based on the detection of the terminal velocity of a free-falling sample into a specifically conceived analysis flow-channel. Moreover, in order to demonstrate the accuracy and precision of the presented flow-device, analyses were initially carried out on standardized polystyrene beads. Finally, to display the application of the proposed system for biological samples, mass density, size and weight of live SW620 tumor spheroids were analyzed. The combined measurements of such parameters can represent a step toward a deeper understanding of 3D culture models.
Keywords: mass density; spheroids; 3D cell culture models; multiparametric characterization; flow-reactors; analytical device
Micromachines 2020, 11(5), 465; https://doi.org/10.3390/mi11050465