We presented a new quantitative analysis for cell and extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions, using cell-coated ECM hydrogel microbeads (hydrobeads) made of type I collagen. The hydrobeads can carry cells as three-dimensional spheroidal forms with an ECM inside, facilitating a direct interaction between the cells and ECM. The cells on hydrobeads do not have a hypoxic core, which opens the possibility for using as a cell microcarrier for bottom-up tissue reconstitution. This technique can utilize various types of cells, even MDA-MB-231 cells, which have weak cell-cell interactions and do not form spheroids in conventional spheroid culture methods. Morphological indices of the cell-coated hydrobead visually present cell-ECM interactions in a quantitative manner.
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