Advances in three-dimensional (3D) printing have enabled the direct assembly of cells and extracellular matrix materials to form in vitro cellular models for 3D biology, the study of disease pathogenesis and new drug discovery. In this study, we report a method of 3D printing for Hela cells and gelatin/alginate/fibrinogen hydrogels to construct in vitro cervical tumor models. Cell proliferation, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) protein expression and chemoresistance were measured in the printed 3D cervical tumor models and compared with conventional 2D planar culture models. Over 90% cell viability was observed using the defined printing process. Comparisons of 3D and 2D results revealed that Hela cells showed a higher proliferation rate in the printed 3D environment and tended to form cellular spheroids, but formed monolayer cell sheets in 2D culture. Hela cells in 3D printed models also showed higher MMP protein expression and higher chemoresistance than those in 2D culture. These new biological characteristics from the printed 3D tumor models in vitro as well as the novel 3D cell printing technology may help the evolution of 3D cancer study.
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