Mesenchymal stemcells (MSCs) are capable of self-renewal and differentiation along the osteogenic, chondrogenic, and adipogenic lineages and have potential applications in a range of therapies. MSCs can be cultured as monolayers on tissue culture plastic, but there are indications that they lose cell-specific properties with time in vitro and so poorly reflect in vivo MSC behavior. We developed dynamic three-dimensional (3D) techniques for in vitro MSC culture using spinner flasks and a rotating wall vessel bioreactor. We characterized the two methods for dynamic 3D MSC culture and compared the properties of these cultures with monolayer MSCs. Our results showed that under optimal conditions, MSCs form compact cellular spheroids and remain viable in dynamic 3D culture. We demonstrated altered cell size and surface antigen expression together with enhanced osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation potential in MSCs from dynamic 3D conditions. By microarray analysis of monolayer and spinner flask MSCs, we identified many differences in gene expression, including those confirming widespread changes to the cellular architecture and extracellular matrix. The upregulation of interleukin 24 in dynamic 3D cultures was shown to selectively impair the viability of prostate cancer cells cultured in medium conditioned by dynamic 3D MSCs. Overall, this work suggests a novel therapeutic application for dynamic 3D MSCs and demonstrates that these methods are a viable alternative to monolayer techniques and may prove beneficial for retaining MSC properties in vitro.
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