3D Versus 2D Cell Culture Implications for Electron Microscopy

Methods Cell Biol. 2010;96:649-70. doi: 10.1016/S0091-679X(10)96027-5.


Cell culture systems are indispensable tools for basic research and a wide range of clinical in vitro studies. However, conventional 2D cell cultures poorly mimic the conditions in the living organism. This limitation may seriously compromise the reliability and significance of data obtained from such approaches. Therefore, we present here a comparative study on selected 3D and 2D cell cultures of U87-MG human glioblastoma cells that were processed by means of high-pressure freezing and freeze-substitution as well as by conventional chemical fixation and Tokuyasu cryo-section immuno-labeling. Three-dimensional cultures comprised pseudo-vascularized cultures, fiber and bead scaffold cultures, and spheroid cultures. Cell cultures in dishes and on coverslips were the static 2D culture systems used as reference models. We will discuss morphological and immuno-cytochemical observations with respect to the feasibility of the cell culture systems investigated for the state-of-the-art electron microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cryopreservation / instrumentation
  • Cryopreservation / methods
  • Glioblastoma
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron / instrumentation
  • Microscopy, Electron / methods*
  • Spheroids, Cellular / ultrastructure
  • Tissue Fixation / methods
  • Tissue Scaffolds
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured