Human Breast Extracellular Matrix Microstructures and Protein Hydrogel 3D Cultures of Mammary Epithelial Cells.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Cancers (Basel)


washington; everett; prmc


Tissue extracellular matrix (ECM) is a structurally and compositionally unique microenvironment within which native cells can perform their natural biological activities. Cells grown on artificial substrata differ biologically and phenotypically from those grown within their native tissue microenvironment. Studies examining human tissue ECM structures and the biology of human tissue cells in their corresponding tissue ECM are lacking. Such investigations will improve our understanding about human pathophysiological conditions for better clinical care. We report here human normal breast tissue and invasive ductal carcinoma tissue ECM structural features. For the first time, a hydrogel was successfully fabricated using whole protein extracts of human normal breast ECM. Using immunofluorescence staining of type I collagen (Col I) and machine learning of its fibrous patterns in the polymerized human breast ECM hydrogel, we have defined the microstructural characteristics of the hydrogel and compared the microstructures with those of other native ECM hydrogels. Importantly, the ECM hydrogel supported 3D growth and cell-ECM interaction of both normal and cancerous mammary epithelial cells. This work represents further advancement toward full reconstitution of the human breast tissue microenvironment, an accomplishment that will accelerate the use of human pathophysiological tissue-derived matrices for individualized biomedical research and therapeutic development.

Clinical Institute


Clinical Institute

Women & Children