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What is Alvetex?

Alvetex™, REPROCELL’s highly porous polystyrene scaffold for 3D cell culture, brings a new dimention to your research capabilities.

Our multi award winning technology overcomes the limitations associated with traditional cell culture by creating a new dimension. 3D cell cultures using Alvetex technology deliver more in vivo-like results over traditional two-dimensional monolayer cultures.

Could the limitations of 2D cell culture be holding you back?

Finding experimental systems that model and provide useful information about in vivo biological processes is one of the most challenging tasks in cell culture research. Researchers need to grow cells outside the body in a controlled laboratory environment.

Although convenient, culturing mammalian cells in traditional laboratory plastic-ware results in flat mono-layer cultures. This 2D cell culture is dramatically different to the 3D in vivo environment cells experience in the body.

 

Enhance the biological relevance of your cell culture research

By accurately recreating the complex cellular organisation and environment experienced by cells within their native tissues, Alvetex enables more accurate investigation into the study of cell behaviour and function than ever before possible within conventional 2D model systems.

Alvetex 3D cell culture allows individual cells to maintain their normal shape and structure with minimal exogenous support and interference. Unlike in the stressful, artificial 2D environment of traditional lab plasticware, cells grown in Alvetex are freely able to form complex interactions with adjacent cells and to receive and transmit signaling molecules.

Mammalian cells (including human cells) grown in Alvetex can freely interact with adjacent cells and lay down extra-cellular matrix. This often leads to the formation of “mini slabs” of tissue-like structures. Cell biologists can therefore create in vitro models that more accurately mimic the tissue environment, gaining a much deeper insight into the complexities of cell function and behaviour.

This more natural environment encourages optimal cell growth and function, fostering the creation of native architecture found in tissues.

Above: Cells grown on conventional 2D surfaces (A and B) adopt a typical flattened morphology covering a large surface area in horizontal x-y plane (A) and have a reduced height in the vertical z plane (B). In comparison, cells maintained in Alvetex Scaffold (C and D) retain a more cuboidal morphology and 3D cell structure, particularly in the z-plane. (Data generated during a collaborative project between Reinnervate Ltd and LGC Standards data now published in the following journal: “Rat primary hepatocytes show enhanced performance and sensitivity to acetaminophen during three dimensional culture on a novel polystyrene scaffold designed for routine use.” Maaike Schutte, Bridget Fox, Marc Baradez, Alison Devonshire, Jesus Minguez, Maria Bokhari, Stefan Przyborski, Damian Marshall. Assay and Drug Development Technologies DOI: 10.1089/adt.2011.0371)

Above: Confocal imaging of cells (fibroblasts) grown in 2D (left image) and in Alvetex Scaffold (right image) revealing the dramatic differences between 2D and 3D growth.

In the 2D model, when looking at side view confocal images, whole cells and nucleii are seen to be flattened. Whereas in cells grown in Alvetex 3D cell culture, cells and their nucleii are seen to be well formed in three dimensions.

In the 2D model when looking from above the outline of the cell is normal but from the side one can see how the cell has become very flattened. The same applies for the nucleus where looking from the side one can see how flattened the nucleus become. In contrast the profile of the cell cytoskeleton and cell nucleus either form top or side when viewed in the Alvetex Scaffold is able to maintains its natural spherical shape. There is extensive evidence to show that cell shape and nucleus shape modify gene expression, protein translation and in turn function and this is widely reported in the literature, e.g. Vergani et al., Int. J. Biochem. Cell Biol. 2004 36:1447-61; Thomas et al. PNAS 2002 19:1972-7.

Alvetex has been designed to stop this shape change from happening. Cells enter the scaffold where they retain their natural 3D architecture and do not flatten out like in conventional 2D cell culture. By introducing the vertical dimension Alvetex Scaffold allows cells to retain their natural 3D form and thus help preserve the natural attributes of the cell. This can be also viewed by seeded at low density and performing laser confocal imaging to reveal individual cell shape.

 

Genuine 3D cell culture, simply and routinely

Manufactured to the highest standards of consistency, Alvetex has been designed for simple and routine use. It uses conventional cell culture plasticware. Any cell biologist can get into Alvetex 3D cell culture.

Alvetex allows cell biologists to maintain the integrity of cell structure and organisation found within native tissue to better understand cellular biology.

Different Alvetex architectures to suit your research needs

Alvetex is currently available in two pore sizes: Alvetex Scaffold and Alvetex Strata. Both materials are presented as 200 µm thick membranes of highly porous cross-linked polystyrene. The difference is in their fine structure and architecture.

 

Alvetex Scaffold, our market leading product, is primarily designed for three-dimensional culture of dissociated mammalian cells within the scaffold. Average void size: 42 µm.

Alvetex Strata, our second-generation product, is primarily designed to support the growth of cells and intact tissues on the surface of the membrane. Average void size: 15 µm.

 

Alvetex has been adapted to fit a variety of conventional cell culture plasticware formats. Each product unit has been terminally sterilised by gamma irradiation and remains sterile until its blister pack is opened. Alvetex requires an ethanol wash prior to use to render it hydrophilic. Alvetex does not degrade during normal use.

 

Alvetex Scaffold in 96-well plate format. Also available: 12-well, 24-well and 384-well.

Alvetex Scaffold 12-well insert format. 6-well format also available.

Alvetex Perfusion Plate.

 

  • Genuine 3D cell culture. Alvetex has a highly porous and consistent scaffold structure that provides the ideal environment for cells to grow and proliferate in three dimensions. This helps to generate highly effective and reproducible 3D cell growth.
  • Easily switch between 2D and 3D cell culture. Alvetex is made from the same inert polystyrene material as standard 2D cell culture plasticware. This gives researchers the confidence to switch easily between 2D and 3D cell culture experiments. Scientists can therefore use the same cell culture media and reagents in both types of studies.
  • Ideal geometry for 3D cell culture. The geometry and dimensions of Alvetex have been specifically designed to mimic a typical in vivo cellular environment. Eeach Alvetex membrane is engineered to a thickness of just 200 µm, with void sizes of 33-55 µm (Alvetex Scaffold) or < 20 µm (Alvetex Strata). No cell is ever further than 100 microns from the nutrient source. This enables easy exchange of nutrients, gases and waste products by passive diffusion. This compares favourably to the typical in vivo environment where cells are generally no more than 150-200 µm away from a capillary.
  • Ideal for long term studies. Alvetex is inert and highly stable, even during long-term cell culture. This means you can avoid any potential experimental variability even over long-term studies.
  • No new equipment is required. Alvetex 3D cell culture is compatible with existing standard cell culture plates from all cell manufacturers and does not require the use of additional equipment.

 

3D culture of murine keratinocytes on Alvetex Scaffold. The transparent structures are Alvetex. Scale bar 20 µm.

Triple staining of HepG2 in Alvetex Scaffold. Scale bar 20 µm.

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