Hollow fiber bioreactors for In Vivo-like mammalian tissue culture

Michael P. Storm, Ian Sorrell, Rebecca Shipley, Sophie Regan, Kim A. Luetchford, Jean Sathish, Steven Webb, Marianne J. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (SciVal)


Tissue culture has been used for over 100 years to study cells and responses ex vivo. The convention of this technique is the growth of anchorage dependent cells on the 2-dimensional surface of tissue culture plastic. More recently, there is a growing body of data demonstrating more in vivo-like behaviors of cells grown in 3-dimensional culture systems. This manuscript describes in detail the set-up and operation of a hollow fiber bioreactor system for the in vivo-like culture of mammalian cells. The hollow fiber bioreactor system delivers media to the cells in a manner akin to the delivery of blood through the capillary networks in vivo. The system is designed to fit onto the shelf of a standard CO2 incubator and is simple enough to be set-up by any competent cell biologist with a good understanding of aseptic technique. The systems utility is demonstrated by culturing the hepatocarcinoma cell line HepG2/C3A for 7 days. Further to this and in line with other published reports on the functionality of cells grown in 3-dimensional culture systems the cells are shown to possess increased albumin production (an important hepatic function) when compared to standard 2-dimensional tissue culture.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere53431
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number111
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2016


  • 3D cell culture
  • Albumin secretion
  • Bioengineering
  • Cell culture
  • Hepatocyte
  • HepG2/C3A
  • Hollow fiber bioreactor
  • Issue 111
  • Tissue culture


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