In vivo therapeutic applications of cell spheroids

Biotechnol Adv. Mar-Apr 2018;36(2):494-505. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2018.02.003. Epub 2018 Feb 3.


Spheroids are increasingly being employed to answer a wide range of clinical and biomedical inquiries ranging from pharmacology to disease pathophysiology, with the ultimate goal of using spheroids for tissue engineering and regeneration. When compared to traditional two-dimensional cell culture, spheroids have the advantage of better replicating the 3D extracellular microenvironment and its associated growth factors and signaling cascades. As knowledge about the preparation and maintenance of spheroids has improved, there has been a plethora of translational experiments investigating in vivo implantation of spheroids into various animal models studying tissue regeneration. We review methods for spheroid delivery and how they have been utilized in tissue engineering experiments. We break down efforts in this field by organ systems, discussing applications of spheroids to various animal models of disease processes and their potential clinical implications. These breakthroughs have been made possible by advancements in spheroid formation, in vivo delivery and assessment. There is unexplored potential and room for further research and development in spheroid-based tissue engineering approaches. Regenerative medicine and other clinical applications ensure this exciting area of research remains relevant for patient care.

Keywords: Biofabrication; Microtissue; Regenerative medicine; Spheroids; Tissue engineering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Regenerative Medicine*
  • Spheroids, Cellular*
  • Tissue Engineering*