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    Continuous long-term cytotoxicity monitoring in 3D spheroids of beetle luciferase-expressing hepatocytes by nondestructive bioluminescence measurement.
    BMC Biotechnol 2017 Jun 20;17(1):54. Epub 2017 Jun 20.
    Health Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Takamatsu, Kagawa, 761-0395, Japan.
    Background: Three-dimensional (3D) spheroids are frequently used in toxicological study because their morphology and function closely resemble those of tissue. As these properties are maintained over a long term, repeated treatment of the spheroids with a test object is possible. Generally, in the repeated treatment test to assess cytotoxicity in the spheroids, ATP assay, colorimetric measurement using pigments or high-content imaging analysis is performed. However, continuous assessment of cytotoxicity in the same spheroids using the above assays or analysis is impossible because the spheroids must be disrupted or killed. To overcome this technical limitation, we constructed a simple monitoring system in which cytotoxicity in the spheroids can be continuously monitored by nondestructive bioluminescence measurement.

    Results: Mouse primary hepatocytes were isolated from transchromosomic (Tc) mice harboring a mouse artificial chromosome (MAC) vector expressing beetle luciferase Emerald Luc (ELuc) under the control of cytomegalovirus immediate early enhancer/chicken β-actin promoter/rabbit β-globin intron II (CAG) promoter, and used in 3D cultures. We confirmed that both luminescence and albumin secretion from the spheroids seeded in the 96-well format Cell-able(TM) were maintained for approximately 1 month. Finally, we repetitively treated the luminescent 3D spheroids with representative hepatotoxicants for approximately 1 month, and continuously and nondestructively measured bioluminescence every day. We successfully obtained daily changes of the dose-response bioluminescence curves for the respective toxicants.

    Conclusions: In this study, we constructed a monitoring system in which cytotoxicity in the same 3D spheroids was continuously and sensitively monitored over a long term. Because this system can be easily applied to other cells, such as human primary cells or stem cells, it is expected to serve as the preferred platform for simple and cost-effective long-term monitoring of cellular events, including cytotoxicity.

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