A brain tumor/organotypic slice co-culture system for studying tumor microenvironment and targeted drug therapies

Emily J. Chadwick, David P. Yang, Mariella G. Filbin, Emanuele Mazzola, Yu Sun, Oded Behar, Maria F. Pazyra-Murphy, Liliana Goumnerova, Keith L. Ligon, Charles D. Stiles, Rosalind A. Segal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Brain tumors are a major cause of cancer-related morbidity and mortality. Developing new therapeutics for these cancers is difficult, as many of these tumors are not easily grown in standard culture conditions. Neurosphere cultures under serum-free conditions and orthotopic xenografts have expanded the range of tumors that can be maintained. However, many types of brain tumors remain difficult to propagate or study. This is particularly true for pediatric brain tumors such as pilocytic astrocytomas and medulloblastomas. This protocol describes a system that allows primary human brain tumors to be grown in culture. This quantitative assay can be used to investigate the effect of microenvironment on tumor growth, and to test new drug therapies. This protocol describes a system where fluorescently labeled brain tumor cells are grown on an organotypic brain slice from a juvenile mouse. The response of tumor cells to drug treatments can be studied in this assay, by analyzing changes in the number of cells on the slice over time. In addition, this system can address the nature of the microenvironment that normally fosters growth of brain tumors. This brain tumor organotypic slice co-culture assay provides a propitious system for testing new drugs on human tumor cells within a brain microenvironment.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere53304
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number105
StatePublished - 7 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Journal of Visualized Experiments.


  • Astrocytoma
  • Brain
  • Co-Culture
  • Issue 105
  • Medicine
  • Microenvironment
  • Mouse
  • Slice
  • Treatment
  • Tumor


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