Comparative studies of cellular viability levels on 2D and 3D in vitro culture matrices

M. Gargotti*, U. Lopez-Gonzalez, H. J. Byrne, A. Casey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, the cellular viability and function of immortalized human cervical and dermal cells are monitored and compared in conventional 2D and two commercial 3D membranes, Collagen and Geltrex, of varying working concentration and volume. Viability was monitored with the aid of the Alamar Blue assay, cellular morphology was monitored with confocal microscopy, and cell cycle studies and cell death mechanism studies were performed with flow cytometry. The viability studies showed apparent differences between the 2D and 3D culture systems, the differences attributed in part to the physical transition from 2D to 3D environment causing alterations to effective resazurin concentration, uptake and conversion rates, which was dependent on exposure time, but also due to the effect of the membrane itself on cellular function. These effects were verified by flow cytometry, in which no significant differences in viable cell numbers between 2D and 3D systems were observed after 24 h culture. The results showed the observed effect was different after shorter exposure periods, was also dependent on working concentration of the 3D system and could be mediated by altering the culture vessel size. Cell cycle analysis revealed cellular function could be altered by growth on the 3D substrates and the alterations were noted to be dependent on 3D membrane concentration. The use of 3D culture matrices has been widely interpreted to result in “improved viability levels” or “reduced” toxicity or cellular “resistance” compared to cells cultured on traditional 2D systems. The results of this study show that cellular health and viability levels are not altered by culture in 3D environments, but their normal cycle can be altered as indicated in the cell cycle studies performed and such variations must be accounted for in studies employing 3D membranes for in vitro cellular screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-273
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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