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Int J Exp Pathol. Feb 1998; 79(1): 1–23.
PMCID: PMC3219428

Multicellular spheroids: a three-dimensional in vitro culture system to study tumour biology


The growth of tumour cells as three-dimensional multicellular spheroids in vitro has led to important insights in tumour biology, since properties of the in vivo-tumour such as proliferation or nutrient gradients, can be studied under controlled conditions. While this review starts with an update of recent data on spheroid monocultures, especially concerning tumour microenvironment and therapeutic modalities, the main emphasis is put on the spectrum of heterologous cultures which have evolved in previous years. This type of culture includes tumour cell interaction with endothelial, fibroblast or immunocompetent cells. The relation of the spheroid culture model to other types of three-dimensional culture and our critical evaluation and presentation of the technical aspects of growing and analysing spheroids are included in the text. These topics are chosed to help the experimental pathologist design experiments with tumour spheroids and to stimulate discussion.

Keywords: Multicellular spheroids, in vitro , three-dimensional culture system, tumour

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