Three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures are important tools in cell biology research and tissue engineering because they more closely resemble the architectural microenvironment of natural tissue, compared to standard two-dimensional cultures. Microscopy techniques that function well for thin, optically transparent cultures, however, are poorly suited for imaging 3D cell cultures. Three-dimensional cultures may be thick and highly scattering, preventing light from penetrating without significant distortion. Techniques that can image thicker biological specimens at high resolution include confocal microscopy, multiphoton microscopy, and optical coherence tomography. In this chapter, these three imaging modalities are described and demonstrated in the assessment of functional and structural features of 3D chitosin scaffolds, 3D micro-topographic substrates from poly-dimethyl siloxane molds, and 3D Matrigel cultures. Using these techniques, dynamic changes to cells in 3D microenvironments can be non-destructively assessed repeatedly over time.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology