Micro-ring structures stabilize microdroplets to enable long term spheroid culture in 384 hanging drop array plates
Cell Culture Techniques
High-Throughput Screening Assays
Using stereolithography, 20 different structural variations comprised of millimeter diameter holes surrounded by trenches, plateaus, or micro-ring structures were prepared and tested for their ability to stably hold arrays of microliter sized droplets within the structures over an extended period of time. The micro-ring structures were the most effective in stabilizing droplets against mechanical and chemical perturbations. After confirming the importance of micro-ring structures using rapid prototyping, we developed an injection molding tool for mass production of polystyrene 3D cell culture plates with an array of 384 such micro-ring surrounded through-hole structures. These newly designed and injection molded polystyrene 384 hanging drop array plates with micro-rings were stable and robust against mechanical perturbations as well as surface fouling-facilitated droplet spreading making them capable of long term cell spheroid culture of up to 22 days within the droplet array. This is a significant improvement over previously reported 384 hanging drop array plates which are susceptible to small mechanical shocks and could not reliably maintain hanging drops for longer than a few days. With enhanced droplet stability, the hanging drop array plates with micro-ring structures provide better platforms and open up new opportunities for high-throughput preparation of microscale 3D cell constructs for drug screening and cell analysis.