Cell spheroid fusion: beyond liquid drops model
Biological self-assembly is crucial in the processes of development, tissue regeneration, and maturation of bioprinted tissue-engineered constructions. The cell aggregates-spheroids-have become widely used model objects in the study of this phenomenon. Existing approaches describe the fusion of cell aggregates by analogy with the coalescence of liquid droplets and ignore the complex structural properties of spheroids. Here, we analyzed the fusion process in connection with structure and
... ructure and mechanical properties of the spheroids from human somatic cells of different phenotypes: mesenchymal stem cells from the limbal eye stroma and epithelial cells from retinal pigment epithelium. A nanoindentation protocol was applied for the mechanical measurements. We found a discrepancy with the liquid drop fusion model: the fusion was faster for spheroids from epithelial cells with lower apparent surface tension than for mesenchymal spheroids with higher surface tension. This discrepancy might be caused by biophysical processes such as extracellular matrix remodeling in the case of mesenchymal spheroids and different modes of cell migration. The obtained results will contribute to the development of more realistic models for spheroid fusion that would further provide a helpful tool for constructing cell aggregates with required properties both for fundamental studies and tissue reparation.