The Right Hydrogel in Your Microplates: Better 3D Cell Culture Research | 3D Cell Culturing | Corning

In terms of scope and application, hydrogels have advanced greatly since early reports of the material surfaced in the 1960s. A half-century later, researchers now add hydrophilic polymer materials to their microplates for a wide swath of investigations, including tissue regeneration.

With emerging innovations in bioprinting and adaptive bioengineering, the innovations just keep on growing, flooding the market with exciting new options to add to your lab's 3D cell culture toolkit. But which type of hydrogel is right for you?

It depends on many factors — primarily, your research track. Let's take a look at the broad groups of hydrogels, including their functional applications for building in vivo-like environments.

Corning® Matrigel® Matrix

For nearly three decades, Corning® Matrigel® matrix has been a marquee natural extracellular matrix (ECM) environment hydrogel for use in multiple research contexts. Derived from the Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm (EHS) mouse sarcoma, the matrix helps you better mimic in vivo environments for 3D cell cultures — in addition to improving the attachment and differentiation of normal and transformed anchorage-dependent epithelia cells (among other cell types, including stem cells).

Highly compatible with a host of cell types, the many applications of Matrigel matrix span the gamut of cancer research, neurobiology, and more. For example, you'll benefit from this hydrogel if your studies involve:

  • 3D cultures for murine or human epithelial cells
  • scaffolding for formation and culture of normal and diseased organoids
  • in vivo peripheral nerve regeneration
  • tumor cell invasion assays
  • in vitro and in vivo analyses of angiogenesis
  • in vivo propagation of human tumors in immunosuppressed murine models

Additionally, Matrigel matrix can be used with spheroid microplates to support tighter spheroid formation.

Other Natural ECM Hydrogels

Self-assembling collagen has dual utility as both a surface and a matrix in several contexts, giving ample flexibility for a number of cell-based assays. Sourced from murine, porcine, and human placenta, collagen is vital for you if your 3D cell culture work involves cell growth, tissue formation, and more. As a result, the material has shown promise in cancer research and arthritis, among other fields.

Another natural ECM, murine-derived laminin, builds 3D cell culture environments for several applications, such as cell growth, adhesion, migration, chemotaxis, and differentiation.

Synthetic Peptide Hydrogels

Synthetic matrices (such as Corning® PuraMatrix™ Peptide Hydrogel) mimic the behavior of natural ECM environments for 3D cell culture studies but with a bit more flexibility. Thanks to self-assembling peptide, the hydrogel has utility in several contexts — such as promoting the differentiation of hepatocyte progenitor cells, rat pheochromocytoma cells, hippocampal neurons, and endothelial cells.

This hydrogel also has applications in stem cell proliferation, angiogenesis assays, tumor cell migration and invasion, and in vivo study of tissue regeneration. However, if your aim is cell growth and differentiation, take heed: You'll want to determine the right mix of peptide hydrogels with bioactive molecules like ECM proteins.

Still Not Sure Which Hydrogel Is Right for You?

Don't sweat it. We'll help you optimize your 3D cell culture investigations with the perfect in vivo-like environment. Sign up for technical updates to get the latest protocols, applications, and more for your lab — or just get in touch directly.