Studying Normal Tissue Radiation Effects using Extracellular Matrix Hydrogels

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Radiation is a therapy for patients with triple negative breast cancer. The effect of radiation on the extracellular matrix (ECM) of healthy breast tissue and its role in local recurrence at the primary tumor site are unknown. Here we present a method for the decellularization, lyophilization, and fabrication of ECM hydrogels derived from murine mammary fat pads. Results are presented on the effectiveness of the decellularization process, and rheological parameters were assessed. GFP- and luciferase-labeled breast cancer cells encapsulated in the hydrogels demonstrated an increase in proliferation in irradiated hydrogels. Finally, phalloidin conjugate staining was employed to visualize cytoskeleton organization of encapsulated tumor cells. Our goal is to present a method for fabricating hydrogels for in vitro study that mimic the in vivo breast tissue environment and its response to radiation in order to study tumor cell behavior.