As the complexity of interactions between tumor and its microenvironment has become more evident, a critical need to engineer in vitro models that veritably recapitulate the 3D microenvironment and relevant cell populations has arisen. This need has caused many groups to move away from the traditional 2D, tissue culture plastic paradigms in favor of 3D models with materials that more closely replicate the in vivo milieu. Creating these 3D models remains a difficult endeavor for hard and soft tissues alike as the selection of materials, fabrication processes, and optimal conditions for supporting multiple cell populations makes model development a nontrivial task. Bone tissue in particular is uniquely difficult to model in part because of the limited availability of materials that can accurately capture bone rigidity and architecture, and also due to the dependence of both bone and tumor cell behavior on mechanical signaling. Additionally, the bone is a complex cellular microenvironment with multiple cell types present, including relatively immature, pluripotent cells in the bone marrow. This prospect will focus on the current 3D models in development to more accurately replicate the bone microenvironment, which will help facilitate improved understanding of bone turnover, tumor-bone interactions, and drug response. These studies have demonstrated the importance of accurately modelling the bone microenvironment in order to fully understand signaling and drug response, and the significant effects that model properties such as architecture, rigidity, and dynamic mechanical factors have on tumor and bone cell response.
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.