Characterization of 3-D collagen gels for functional cell-based biosensing
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To address the need for cell-based functional information towards accelerated drug discovery, we proposed a three-dimensional, cell-based matrix made by immobilizing IMR-32 neuroblastoma cells in collagen hydrogels. The feasibility of this matrix for functional assays was investigated with respect to mechanical, optical and biocompatibility properties. The collagen gels exhibited mechanical and optical properties suitable for cell-based biosensing. Using fluorescence confocal imaging, morphological differences were observed between monolayer (2-D) and collagen entrapped (3-D) cells. However, no differences in proliferation were observed. Both 2-D and 3-D cells failed to develop a resting membrane potential typical of motor neurons. 3-D entrapped cells exhibited a difference in depolarization-induced calcium influx, suggesting differences in expression of voltage-dependent calcium channels. These studies constitute a first step towards establishing functional cell-based assays in hydrogel matrices.