Available online 1 August 2020, 107626



Hyaluronic acid and IKVAV motif allow breast cancer cells to produce ECM.

Hyaluronic acid/IKVAV-based cultures may resemble the tumour microenvironment.

Electroporation efficiency is modulated by ECM and cell organization.


Nowadays, electroporation (EP) represents a promising method for the intracellular delivery of anticancer drugs. To setting up the process, the EP efficiency is usually evaluated by using cell suspension and adherent cell cultures that are not representative of the in vivo conditions. Indeed, cells are surrounded by extracellular matrix (ECM) whose composition and physical characteristics are different for each tissue. So, various three-dimensional (3D) in vitro models, such as spheroids and hydrogel-based cultures, have been proposed to mimic the tumour microenvironment.

Herein, a 3D breast cancer in vitro model has been proposed. HCC1954 cells were seeded on crosslinked and lyophilized matrices composed of hyaluronic acid (HA) and ionic complementary self-assembling peptides (SAPs) already known to provide a fibrous structure mimicking collagen network. Herein, SAPs were functionalized with laminin derived IKVAV adhesion motif. Cultures were characterized by spheroids surrounded by ECM produced by cancer cells as demonstrated by collagen1a1 and laminin B1 transcripts. EP was carried out on both 2D and 3D cultures: a sequence of 8 voltage pulses at 5 kHz with different amplitude was applied using a plate electrode. Cell sensitivity to EP seemed to be modulated by the presence of ECM and the different cell organization. Indeed, cells cultured on HA-IKVAV were more sensitive than those treated in 2D and HA cultures, in terms of both cell membrane permeabilization and viability. Collectively, our results suggest that HA-IKVAV cultures may represent an interesting model for EP studies. Further studies will be needed to elucidate the influence of ECM composition on EP efficiency.



Breast cancer

Hyaluronic acid

Self-assembling peptides

IKVAV adhesion motif

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© 2020 Published by Elsevier B.V.

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