University of Oulu

Hyytiäinen, A., Korelin, K., Toriseva, M. et al. The effect of matrices on the gene expression profile of patient-derived head and neck carcinoma cells for in vitro therapy testing. Cancer Cell Int 23, 147 (2023).

The effect of matrices on the gene expression profile of patient-derived head and neck carcinoma cells for in vitro therapy testing

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Author: Hyytiäinen, Aini1,2; Korelin, Katja1,2; Toriseva, Mervi3,4;
Organizations: 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Translational Immunology Research Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku, Turku, 20520, Finland
4FICAN West Cancer Centre, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
5Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases, Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
6Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck surgery, Turku University Hospital and University of Turku, Turku, Finland
7Turku Bioscience Centre, University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland
8Institute of Dentistry, School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio Campus, Kuopio, Finland
9Research Unit of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
10Medical Research Center, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
11Department of Pathology, Helsinki University Hospital (HUS), Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 5.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-11


Objective: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a highly aggressive tumor with a 5-year mortality rate of ~ 50%. New in vitro methods are needed for testing patients’ cancer cell response to anti-cancer treatments. We aimed to investigate how the gene expression of fresh carcinoma tissue samples and freshly digested single cancer cells change after short-term cell culturing on plastic, Matrigel or Myogel. Additionally, we studied the effect of these changes on the cancer cells’ response to anti-cancer treatments.

Materials/methods: Fresh tissue samples from HNSCC patients were obtained perioperatively and single cells were enzymatically isolated and cultured on either plastic, Matrigel or Myogel. We treated the cultured cells with cisplatin, cetuximab, and irradiation; and performed cell viability measurement. RNA was isolated from fresh tissue samples, freshly isolated single cells and cultured cells, and RNA sequencing transcriptome profiling and gene set enrichment analysis were performed.

Results: Cancer cells obtained from fresh tissue samples changed their gene expression regardless of the culturing conditions, which may be due to the enzymatic digestion of the tissue. Myogel was more effective than Matrigel at supporting the upregulation of pathways related to cancer cell proliferation and invasion. The impacts of anti-cancer treatments varied between culturing conditions.

Conclusions: Our study showed the challenge of in vitro cancer drug testing using enzymatic cell digestion. The upregulation of many targeted pathways in the cultured cells may partially explain the common clinical failure of the targeted cancer drugs that pass the in vitro testing.

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Series: Cancer cell international
ISSN: 1475-2867
ISSN-E: 1475-2867
ISSN-L: 1475-2867
Volume: 23
Issue: 1
Article number: 147
DOI: 10.1186/s12935-023-02982-y
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3122 Cancers
3111 Biomedicine
Funding: Open Access funded by Helsinki University Library. Open Access funding provided by University of Helsinki including Helsinki University Central Hospital. The project was funded by Minerva Foundation, Cancer Society of Finland, the Sigrid Juselius Foundation, the Finnish Dental Society Apollonia, the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, Helsinki University Central hospital research funds, the Victoriastiftelsen, Foundation and Orion Research Foundation.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.