, Volume 70, Issue 1, pp 261–273 | Cite as

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

  • M. Gargotti
  • U. Lopez-Gonzalez
  • H. J. Byrne
  • A. Casey
Original Article


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.


Collagen I Geltrex® 3D matrices Confocal microscopy In vitro screening 



This study were funded by the Government of Libya for M. Gargotti and Consejo Nacional de Cienciay Tecnología, Mexico for U. Lopez-Gonzalez and this work has been enabled by Science Foundation Ireland Principle Investigator Award 11/PI/1108.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Physics, Nanolab Research Centre, FOCAS Research InstituteDublin Institute of TechnologyDublin 8Ireland
  2. 2.FOCAS Research InstituteDublin Institute of TechnologyDublin 8Ireland

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