Self-Renewal and CSCs In Vitro Enrichment: Growth as Floating Spheres. Chapter uri icon


  • Cancer stem cells (CSC) are a vital component to the progression and reoccurrence of cancers, making them a primary target of study for both fundamental understanding of cancer biology and the development of effective and targeted treatments. CSCs reside in a complex 3D microenvironment, and the 3D spheroids are an indispensable tool in tumor biology due to their 3D structure and replication of the tumor microenvironment. Within this chapter the methodology for CSC isolation, suspension culture in hanging drop model, and characterization assays for CSC are described. First, the methodology for identifying and isolating CSCs from patient tumors, ascites, or cancer cell lines is described through the use of FACS analysis. Next, a detailed description of 3D hanging drop model for generating CSC spheroids is provided, followed by maintenance and monitoring techniques for extended 3D culture. Analysis methods are described for the quantification of CSC spheroid proliferation and viability tracking, throughout culture by on-plate alamarBlue fluorescence. Additional viability assays are described utilizing confocal microscopy with Live/Dead Viability/Cytotoxicity Kit. The characterization of CSCs populations within spheroids is described through FACS analysis. Further, an immunohistochemistry procedure is described for cell-cell and cell-matrix interaction assessment. Finally, several notes and tips for successful experiments with 3D CSC spheroids on the hanging drop model are provided. These methods are not only applicable to CSCs within a variety of tumor cell types, for not only understanding the fundamental tumor biology, but also for drug screening and development of preclinical chemotherapeutic strategies.

author list (cited authors)

  • Mehta, P., Novak, C., Raghavan, S., Ward, M., & Mehta, G.

citation count

  • 27

complete list of authors

  • Mehta, Pooja||Novak, Caymen||Raghavan, Shreya||Ward, Maria||Mehta, Geeta

editor list (cited editors)

  • Papaccio, G., & Desiderio, V.

Book Title


publication date

  • January 2018