A proximal culture method to study paracrine signaling between cells

Subramanyam Dasari, Taruni Pandhiri, James Haley, Dean Lenz, Anirban K. Mitra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Intercellular interactions play an important role in many biological processes, including tumor progression, immune responses, angiogenesis, and development. Paracrine or juxtacrine signaling mediates such interactions. The use of a conditioned medium and coculture studies are the most common methods to discriminate between these two types of interactions. However, the effect of localized high concentrations of secreted factors in the microenvironment during the paracrine interactions is not accurately recapitulated by conditioned medium and, thus, may lead to imprecise conclusions. To overcome this problem, we have devised a proximal culture method to study paracrine signaling. The two cell types are grown on either surface of a 10 µm-thick polycarbonate membrane with 0.4 µm pores. The pores allow the exchange of secreted factors and, at the same time, inhibit juxtacrine signaling. The cells can be collected and lysed at the endpoint to determine the effects of the paracrine signaling. In addition to allowing for localized concentration gradients of secreted factors, this method is amenable to experiments involving prolonged periods of culture, as well as the use of inhibitors. While we use this method to study the interactions between ovarian cancer cells and the mesothelial cells they encounter at the site of metastasis, it can be adapted to any two adherent cell types for researchers to study paracrine signaling in various fields, including tumor microenvironment, immunology, and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere58144
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number138
StatePublished - Aug 28 2018


  • Biology
  • Conditioned medium
  • Exosomes
  • Issue 138
  • Ligand
  • Microenvironment
  • Paracrine signaling
  • Receptor
  • Secreted factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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