In their natural physical environment, cells that form tissues and organs do not exist as single cell entities but are surrounded by other cells. They are embedded within a complex non-cellular structure known as the extracellular matrix (ECM) which forms an interface between the cells and their adjacent stroma – anchoring and agglutinating the cells in a three-dimensional (3D) formation. 3D Cell Culture Kits from PromoCell offer a better option than 2D alternatives.

Despite this, most of the current cell research is still being performed using traditional two-dimensional (2D) monolayer cultures. However, the limitations and problems of 2D cell culture are increasingly known. As 2D cell culture does not adequately take into account the natural 3D environment of cells, it is frequently an insufficient model for in vivo model contexts. There is a growing evidence that 3D cell culture systems represent more accurately the actual physiological in vivo conditions where cells are permitted to grow or interact with their surroundings in a 3D fashion and are thus also more reflective of in vivo cellular processes/responses. As shape, size, and functionality of a cell is largely affected by the physical environment in which it is grown, cells in the 3D culture environment differ morphologically and physiologically from cells in the 2D culture environment and show clear differences with regard to many cellular processes such as cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and gene expression.

2D Cell Culture versus 3D Cell Culture

3D Cell Culture Kits

 2D Cell Cultures3D Cell Cultures
MorphologyElongated, unnatural cell shapeMore natural cell shape – physiological resemblance (spheroids)
Cell-Cell InteractionUnnatural interactions between cells – poor or
even non-existent
More natural interactions between cells – close to in vivo actions
Spatial DistributionCell monolayerCell multilayer
Cell EnvironmentAll cells are exposed equallyOuter cell from spheroids are usually only being exposed
Cell Growth & ViabilityStressed cells, sometimes poor or slow growthOverall improved viability
Cell CycleMore or less same stageMixture (viable/proliferating, quiescent, hypoxic necrotic)
Intracellular BiologyArtificial interactions - cells behave differently
to those in vivo
Close to real interactions - cells behave more like those in vivo
Cell PhysiologyMay not be physiologically relevantMore reflective of in vivo physiological responses
Cell-Drug InteractionMay show misleading drug testing results (e.g.
Better predictor models - more realistic drug uptake/metabolism
Stem CellsPoorer stem cell expansionImproved stem cell expansion


Artificially created 3D cell culture environments improve the functionality, differentiation and viability of cells. By mimicking the in vivo conditions and cellular responses, 3D matrices and scaffolds provide a more physiologically relevant microenvironment and screening platform for many cell types including cancer and stem cells in developmental morphogenesis, pharmacology, drug metabolism and drug toxicity studies.


3D Cell Culture Matrices

PromoKine offers a range of 3D Cell Culture Matrix Kits, including Basement Membrane Extract (BME, animal-based), Alginate Hydrogel (plant-based), proprietary Duo-Matrix and Dry Scaffold (natural polymers, animal-free) to meet the needs and requirements of various research fields. Our 3D Culture Matrix Kits provide a standardized, user friendly and adaptable to high-throughput strategy for setting up spheroid/organoid formations, 3D cell cultures and pharmacological studies to screen and characterize compounds in a more natural 3D environment.

PromoKine’s 3D Cell Culture Matrix Kit (BME) contains a commonly used cell-adhesive matrix with a microporous structure which is derived from animal sources, providing a very good scaffold for cells to grow in a 3D fashion (e.g. spheroids/organoids). BME is a more naturally relevant matrix and for example well suited for modeling the morphological effects of early oncogenesis on three-dimensional microenvironments. It can be used for many applications, e.g. for co-culturing of cells, propagating e.g. primary endothelial, epithelial, and smooth muscle cells or promoting differentiation of stem cells – and is also utilized in angiogenesis, cell invasion, cell attachment as well as tumorigenicity, toxicity and drug discovery assays. PromoKine‘s BME is growth factor-reduced and endotoxin-free, and is free of any human-derived substances.

PromoKine’s 3D Cell Culture Matrix Kit (Alginate Hydrogel) is based on alginate, an anionic polysaccharide derived from the cell walls of algae. It provides a nanoporous matrix which lacks cell adhesion sites as well as growth hormones and other ECM proteins. Hence, it is a more controlled environment which is also easy to handle and preferred by certain cell types. As it solidifies to a gel in the presence of calcium ions and liquefies in the presence of calcium-chelating agents, it is an ideal scaffold for culturing of cells in three dimensions and conveniently harvesting these cultured cells. It supports successful 3D cell culture of different cell types including primary endothelial and epithelial cells, fibroblasts, keratinocytes, chondrocytes, tumor and stem cells, and can be used e.g. for cell encapsulation, tumor models, tissue modeling as well as drug screening/discovery assays.


For more info, contact us.


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