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The Science of Alvetex®

3D cell culture allows individual cells to maintain their normal 3D shape and structure with minimal exogenous support and interference.

Brand: Alvetex

Growing in Alvetex, cells are freely able to form complex interactions with adjacent cells and to receive and transmit signals, enabling a more natural environment to foster the creation of native architecture found in tissues.

By maintaining the shape and structure of cells and enabling a high level of cell-to-cell interaction, Alvetex enables a much deeper understanding of how cells function in vivo. Enabling cells to maintain their natural morphology and 3D organization leads to improved cell function and responsiveness which is much more representative of the natural in vivo environment.

Alvetex delivers data of unmatched biological relevance. Factors such as cell viability and responsiveness have been demonstrated to be enhanced when growing cells in Alvetex in comparison to 2D monolayer cultures.

Alvetex Science -- triple confocal microscope image of Hepg2 grown in ALvetex Scaffold

Above: triple fluorescent staining of hepatocarcinoma HepG2 cells grown for 3 days on Alvetex Scaffold.

Cells in conventional 2D culture

Natural in vivo 3D environment
Typically cells maintain a 3D elipsoidal structure and organization


Conventional in vitro cell culture
ells adopt flattened morphology in a monolayer


Cells in Alvetex 3D culture

[Data generated during a collaborative project between REPROCELL (formerly Reinnervate Ltd) and LGC Standards – see Maaike Schutte, Stefan Przyborski, et al. (2011) Rat primary hepatocytes show enhanced performance and sensitivity to acetaminophen during three dimensional culture on a novel polystyrene scaffold designed for routine use.  Assay and Drug Development Technologies. DOI: 10.1089/adt.2011.0371.]

Conventional 2D cell culture


Cells grown on conventional 2D surfaces adopt a typical flattened morphology covering a large surface area in horizontal x–y plane and have a reduced height in the vertical z plane.

Alvetex 3D cell culture


In comparison, cells maintained in Alvetex Scaffold retain a more cuboidal morphology and 3D cell structure, particularly in the z-plane.

Imaging reveals the integrity of in vivo-like structure and organization of cells grown in Alvetex


Confocal microscope image of triple fluorescent stained HepG2 cells grown in Alvetex Scaffold. in this image the cells have occupied an entire spherical Alvetex void.


Histological images of murine keratinocytes grown in Alvetex Scaffold. (The clear structures are Alvetex.)


Scanning electron microscope (SEM) image on a full-thickness skin model formed on top of Alvetex Scaffold.


Image rotation for study of cell shape. Phalloidin staining of filamentous actin (green) in 3T3 cell grown on Alvetex Scaffold. Nucleus is stained blue.


Co-culture of glial and neural cells to model brain tissues. Brightfield micrograph showing the structure of a human stem cell-derived neuro- sphere co-cultured with U118-MG glial cells on Alvetex Strata.


Confocal microscope image showing neurite outgrowth (stained green) from a neurosphere grown on Alvetex Strata. Cell nucleii are stained blue.

Alvetex’s unique scaffold dimensions are ideally suited to 3D cell culture

Alvetex Feature Benefits
Same polystyrene as existing cell culture plasticware
  • Easily switch between 2D and 3D protocols
  • Inert – no effect on cell growth or function – no new experimental variables
  • Stable – does not degrade, no change throughout long-term studies
  • Can be pre-coated with ECM proteins
Consistent scaffold structure – extremely low batch to batch variability
  • Reproducible, consistent results, low batch to batch variability
  • Genuine and homogeneous 3D cell growth
Entire scaffold is only 200 µm thick
  • No cell is ever more than 100 µm away from nutrients and gasses – mimics in vivo conditions
  • Cells can feed and excrete via passive diffusion – mimics in vivo conditions
> 90 % Porosity
  • Cells can easily penetrate scaffold and lay down ECM to more closely mimic in vivo conditions
  • Cells and media move freely through the matrix
  • Nutrients and waste exchanged by passive diffusion
  • Partial cell retrieval is possible
Alvetex Scaffold void dimensions approximately 42 µm
  • Typically up to 75 cells may occupy a single void
Alvetex Strata void dimensions
approximately 15 µm
  • Highlight behavioral differences between non-invasive (eg. epithelial) and invasive (eg. Fibroblast) cell types

Many cell types have already been successfully grown on Alvetex

Following is an inexhaustive list of examples of cell types that have been successfully grown in Alvetex 3D cell culture. Many of these have been grown by REPROCELL scientists (see Alvetex protocols), while others have been reported in scientific journals (see Alvetex publications).

  • 3T3 cells
  • HaCaT cells
  • HepG2 cells
  • cells
  • CHO-K1 cells
  • LN229 cells
  • Full thickness skin equivalent
  • SW480 cells
  • SW620 cells
  • PC3 cells
  • BT474 cells
  • MG63 cells
  • Primary rat MSCs
  • MCF-7 cells
  • Caco-2 cells, and the co-culture of Caco-2 with CCD-18co cells
  • CCD-18co cells
  • H1299 cells
  • U118-MG glioblastoma cells
  • Bone marrow stromal cells
  • Primary hepatocytes
  • Upcyte® hepatocytes
  • Neurospheres
  • Adipose tissue-derived stem cells
  • Human pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons
  • Cylindroma primary cells
  • MET4 squamous carcinoma cells
  • L929 mouse fibroblasts
  • Neural crest cells
  • Human nucleus pulposus cells
  • Chondrocytes
  • Primary chick embryonic tissue
  • Brain tissue slices
  • Equine oviduct cells
  • Spermatogonial stem cells
  • Human disc cells
  • Melanocytes
  • A375/A2058 melanoma cells
  • 3T3-L1 cells
  • Prostate cancer cells and prostate stem cells
  • H9 human embryonic stem cells
  • CRL-11372 osteoblasts
  • HEK293 human embryonic kidney cells
  • MB49 mouse bladder cancer cells
  • Rat primary urothelial cells
  • Primary retinal pigment epithelium
  • Urothelial cells
  • Myofibroblasts
  • Astrocytes
  • Primary and secondary ESC-derived hepatic cells
  • Primary keratinocytes
  • Pancreatic duct and stromal cells
  • GSC glioblastoma stem cells
  • b.END-3 endothelial cells
  • HCT116 cells
  • JJ012 chondrosarcoma cells
  • NG108 stem cells
  • MBT-2 cells 

Alvetex 3D Cell Culture Systems

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