Publication Date: 09 October, 2013
Henry Page, Peter Flood, and Emmanuel G Reynaud.
Cell and Tissue Research, pages 1–9, 2013.
Life science research focuses on deciphering the biochemical mechanisms that regulate cell proliferation and function and largely depends on the use of tissue culture methods in which cells are grown on two-dimensional hard plastic or glass surfaces. However, the flat surface of the tissue culture plate represents a poor topological approximation of the complex three-dimensional (3D) architecture of a tissue or organ composed of various cell types, extracellular matrix (ECM) and interstitial fluids. Moreover, if we consider a cell as a perfectly defined volume, flattened cells have full access to the environment and limited cell-to-cell contact. However if the cell is a cube in a simple cuboidal epithelium, then its access to the lumen is limited to one face, with the opposite face facing the basal membrane and the remaining four faces lying in close contact with neighbouring cells. This is of great importance when considering the access of viruses and bacteria to the cell surface, the excretion of soluble factors or proteins or the signalling within or between cells. This short review discusses various cell culture approaches to improve the simulation of the 3D environment of cells.