Effect of cell imprinting on viability and drug susceptibility of breast cancer cells to doxorubicin

Fatemeh Shahriyari, Mohsen Janmaleki, Shahriar Sharifi, Milad Eyvazi Hesar, Sasha Hoshian, Reza Taghiabadi, Ahmad Razaghian, Majid Ghadiri, Afshin Peirovi, Morteza Mahmoudi*, Amir Sanati Nezhad, Ali Khademhosseini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This study demonstrates the effect of substrate's geometrical cues on viability and the efficacy of an anti-cancer drug, doxorubicin (DOX), on breast cancer cells. It is hypothesized that the surface topographical properties can mediate the cellular drug intake. Pseudo-three dimensional (3D) platforms were fabricated using imprinting technique from polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) hydrogel to recapitulate topography of cells’ membranes. The cells exhibited higher viability on the cell-imprinted platforms for both PDMS and GelMA materials compared to the plain/flat counterparts. For instance, MCF7 cells showed a higher metabolic activity (11.9%) on MCF7-imprinted PDMS substrate than plain PDMS. The increased metabolic activity for the imprinted GelMA was about 44.2% compared to plain hydrogel. The DOX response of cells was monitored for 24 h. Although imprinted substrates demonstrated enhanced biocompatibility, the cultured cells were more susceptible to the drug compared to the plain substrates. In particular, MCF7 cells on imprinted PDMS and GelMA substrates showed 37% and 50% higher in cell death compared to the corresponding plain PDMS and GelMA, respectively. Interestingly, the drug susceptibility of the cells on the imprinted hydrogel was about 70% higher than the cells cultured on imprinted PDMS substrates. Having MCF7 cell-imprinted substrates, DOX responses of two other breast cancer cell lines, SKBR3 and ZR-75-1, were also evaluated. The results support that cell membrane curvature developed by multiscale topography is able to mediate intracellular signaling and drug intake. Statement of Significance: Research in biological sciences and drug discovery mostly rely on two dimensional (2D) cell culture techniques which cannot provide a reliable physiologically relevant environment. Lack of extracellular matrix and a large shift in physicochemical properties of conventional 2D substrates can induce aberrant cellular behaviors. While chemical composition, topographical, and mechanical properties of substrates have remarkable impacts on drug susceptibility, gene expression, and protein synthesis, the most cell culture plates are from rigid and plain substrates. A number of (bio)polymeric 3D-platforms have been introduced to resemble innate cell microenvironment. However, their intricate culture protocols restrain their applications in demanding high-throughput drug screening. To address the above concerns, in the present study, a hydrogel-based pseudo-3D substrate with imprinted cell features has been introduced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Early online date7 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cell imprinting
  • DOX
  • Drug efficacy
  • GelMA
  • MCF7 cells

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