Have you wondered what makes 3D Cell Culture a better representative of human conditions compared to 2D Cell Cultures?
Before that, imagine a situation where you walk into a space exhibition and come across illustrations of our planet Earth. However, you see that there are two different representations of the Earth – a map and a globe. A map gives a two-dimensional presentation whereas a globe gives a three-dimensional presentation of the entire world.
Although maps are the simplest way of representing the world and they provide us with important information such as the location of countries, and the distance between them, it is not an accurate depiction. Maps tend to distort the shape, size, and distance. On the other hand, globes are an accurate visual representation of Earth and are a miniature version of it. It helps us to understand how day and night occur, and how seasons are caused, and also gives the idea of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. Globes also make it easy to understand longitudes and latitudes.
This comparison between a map and a globe can be used as a great analogy to understand the differences between a 2D cell culture and a 3D cell culture.
2D cultures are like maps as they represent cells in the form of single sheets growing on plastic surfaces. But 3D cultures are like globes and are more like a miniature organ or a tissue (Eg – organoids)
When cells are grown in 2D, they acquire a flattened shape. However, by providing another dimension, 3D cultures make sure the cells retain their inherent shape. It also enables the cells to make connections with other cells and their environment
Additionally, 3D cultures bring in complexity which influences the behavior of cells based on their position. To better understand this, consider Earth as a 3D culture, and the cells are arranged in definite layers like the crust, mantle, and core. Each layer has a different function based on its position. In contrast, if the Earth’s layers are represented in 2D, all these layers would be placed adjacent to each other, thus losing their importance. This is exactly what happens when cells are cultured in 2D.
The complexity and human-like characteristics of 3D cell culture help to make accurate predictions. That is why such tools are of high importance in crucial applications of biomedical research such as drug testing and drug screening. Thus, the field of research is slowly transitioning towards 3D cultures.
Read more about the applications of 3D cultures here.