In classic monolayer cell culture, the world is flat. We assessed a selection of natural gelling agents of non-animal origin (ι- and κ-carrageenan, gellan gum, guar gum, locust bean gum, sodium alginate, tragacanth and xanthan gum) in serum-free medium at 1–4% (w/v) concentration for their suitability as a natural 3D culture environment for brain-derived cells. Their biophysical properties (viscosity, texture, transparency, gelling propensity) resemble those of the extracellular matrix (ECM). They not only protected neurons in cell culture from shear forces and medium evaporation, but also stabilized cellular microenvironment. Among the selected gels, guar gum and locust bean gum with intercalated laminin allowed for cortical cell embedment. Neurons plated on and migrating into gellan gum survived and differentiated even without the addition of laminin. Guar gum supported the functional survival of 3D cortical culture over a period of 79 days in a proof-of-concept long-term microelectrode array (MEA) electrophysiology study.
Wilk N, Habibey R, Golabchi A, Latifi S, Ingebrandt S, Blau A (2016). Selective comparison of gelling agents as neural cell culture matrices for long-term microelectrode array electrophysiology. Oilseeds & Fats, Crops and Lipids, 23 (1).