Send to

Choose Destination
World J Hepatol. 2010 Jan 27;2(1):1-7. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v2.i1.1.

Hepatospheres: Three dimensional cell cultures resemble physiological conditions of the liver.

Author information

Franziska van Zijl, Wolfgang Mikulits, Department of Medicine I, Institute of Cancer Research, Medical University of Vienna, Borschkegasse 8a, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


Studying physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms in the liver on a molecular basis is a challenging task. During two dimensional (2D) culture conditions hepatocytes dedifferentiate rapidly by losing metabolic functions and structural integrity. Hence, inappropriate 2D hepatocellular models hamper studies on the xenobiotic metabolism of the liver which strongly influences drug potency. Also, the lack of effective therapies against hepatocellular carcinoma shows the urgent need for robust models to investigate liver functions in a defined hepatic microenvironment. Here, we summarize and discuss three-dimensional cultures of hepatocytes, herein referred to as hepatospheres, which provide versatile tools to investigate hepatic metabolism, stemness and cancer development.


3D culture; Hepatocyte; Hepatosphere; Microenvironment; Tissue engineering

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center