2D vs 3D Cell Cultures – What’s The Difference?

2D vs 3D Cell Cultures – What’s The Difference?

In the field of biomedical research, 2D cell cultures have extensively been used since the early 1900s but in recent times, the technology of 3D cell culture has boomed. The tussle of 2D vs 3D cell culture has received much interest from biomedical researchers and other science geeks. In this article, let us explore more regarding 2D vs 3D cell cultures.

What is 2D Cell Culture?

In 2D cell culture systems, cells are grown on flat dishes with coated surfaces to help them adhere and proliferate. These models are not representative of the in vivo cell environment as they do not mimic the microenvironment found in body tissues. Moreover, 2D cell culture testing is not always predictable for cell morphology and thus results in failure of drug discovery or research outcome rates. Also, as cells grow in 2D culture, they consume the media and exude metabolic waste, leading to damage of the cells by toxic waste and nutrition depletion.

2D Vs 3D Cell Cultures

What is 3D Cell Culture? 

Ross Granville Harrison adapted the hanging drop method to develop the first tissue culture and henceforth, this method has helped several studies in embryology, oncology, virology, genetics etc. The 1990s were a low time for 3D cell culture research but in the last decade, 3D cell culture market has seen an explosion with several capitalists and investors betting on 3D cell culture to be the key to clinical progress. This enormous faith is probably due to the varied application of 3D cell culture in cell therapy, drug discovery, toxicity, tissue engineering, organ bioprinting, and other biomedical domains. In 3D cell culture, the cells are grown in 3D structures by abolishing the monolayer system of growing cells by using hanging-drop-based, matrix-based, and agitation bioreactor-based methods. 

Advantages of 2D Cell Cultures

Even though the 2D vs 3D cell cultures debate still interests scientists, 2D cell cultures are still used for a majority of reasons: 

  1. 2D cell culture is less expensive than 3D cell culture models.
  2. 2D cell culture is well established and has been in use since the 1900s.
  3. More comparative literature data to explore cells.
  4. Easy cell culture observation and analysis.

Advantages of 3D Cell Culture

Even though 2D cell culture is easy to grow and maintain, 3D cell culture is the better choice in the dilemma of 2D vs 3D cell cultures. The difference between 2D cell culture and 3D cell culture can be best understood by the fact that 3D cell culture represents the human tissue outside the body while 2D cell culture only exists in a 2-dimensional monolayer, which is quite an inaccurate representation of the cell microenvironment and cell physiology.

The advantages of 3D cell culture include:

  1. 3D cell cultures are more physiologically relevant and predictive than 2D cultures. 
  2. 3D cell cultures are complex systems linked together by microfluidics and thus show better cell-ECM and cell-cell interactions.
  3. Better metabolic adaptation and flow integration make 3D cell culture more functionally relevant.
  4. Better simulation of conditions using microfluidics provides 3D cell culture advantage over 2D cell culture models.
  5. 3D cell culture reduces the use of animal models and thus are ethically relevant.
  6. 3D cell cultures are more realistic for developing tumor organoid models for research.

The transition from 2D cell culture to 3D cell culture in this debate of 2D vs 3D cell cultures is a popularly discussed scientific notion in recent times owing to the physiological research relevancy of the 3D models but a lot of research is still done with 2D cell culture practices due to the ease of culture maintenance. If you are working in cell culture domain and are looking forward to procure tissue-specific primary cells, contact us at info@kosheeka.com or visit our website at https://kosheeka.com/

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