International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Oct 2022)

Magnetic-Based Human Tissue 3D Cell Culture: A Systematic Review

  • Inês Alexandra Marques,
  • Carolina Fernandes,
  • Nuno Tiago Tavares,
  • Ana Salomé Pires,
  • Ana Margarida Abrantes,
  • Maria Filomena Botelho

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 23, no. 20
p. 12681


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Cell-based assays, conducted on monolayer (2D) cultured cells, are an unquestionably valuable tool for biomedical research. However, three-dimensional (3D) cell culture models have gained relevance over the last few years due to the advantages of better mimicking the microenvironment and tissue microarchitecture in vivo. Recent magnetic-based 3D (m3D) cell culture systems can be used for this purpose. These systems are based on exposing magnetized cells to magnetic fields by levitation, bioprinting, or ring formation to promote cell aggregation into 3D structures. However, the successful development of these structures is dependent on several methodological characteristics and can be applied to mimic different human tissues. Thus, a systematic review was performed using Medline (via Pubmed), Scopus, and Web of Science (until February 2022) databases to aggregate studies using m3D culture in which human tissues were mimicked. The search generated 3784 records, of which 25 met the inclusion criteria. The usability of these m3D systems for the development of homotypic or heterotypic spheroids with or without scaffolds was explored in these studies. We also explore methodological differences specifically related to the magnetic method. Generally, the development of m3D cultures has been increasing, with bioprinting and levitation systems being the most used to generate homotypic or heterotypic cultures, mainly to mimic the physiology of human tissues, but also to perform therapeutic screening. This systematic review showed that there are areas of research where the application of this method remains barely explored, such as cancer research.