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  • Writer's pictureNanoEntek

3 Dimentional Cells - Spheroids and Organoids

Updated: Jan 2

3D cell samples such as spheroid and organoid are becoming a trend in cell analysis considering advantages that they offer. Some prominent advantages are low cost, animal testing alternative, and ability to mimic cellular structures found in organisms. Given their potentiality, their use is now growing limitless.

What are spheroids and organoids?

An image of spheroid cell

Spheroids are clusters of cells forming a 3D spherical shape as the name implies. These free-floating aggregates allow for easier study in tumor organization, as they highly resemble tumor cells in vivo [1].

Different organoids for various organs

Organoids are artificially grown masses of cells or tissues that resemble organs [2]. Not only structures, but functions of organs are also resembled so that they can be used in a wide range of fields such as cancer modeling, drug development, and immunotherapy [1].

Why were they made?

When culturing cells in 2D on a flat surface, the interaction between cell to cell and cell to extracellular matrix are reduced, and the cellular responsiveness is limited because cells in vivo are in 3D shaped Thus, studying cells in 3D structure provides more beneficial and more accurate by mimicking environment in the body. The first 3D cell aggregates were successfully originated in 1956 by Robert Ehrmann and George Gey without interference from the scaffold Then, there were organoids developed after few decades, with the very first organoids successfully cultivated from primary cells of human donors [3].

The difference between spheroids and organoids

They share some similarities, yet not quite the identical clusters. Table below shows the general comparison of spheroids and organoids.



Cell types

Primary cells, cell lines, tumor cells and tissues

Stem cells, tumor cells and tissues


Round (spherical shape)



- Short culturing time required (2-3 days)

- Lower cost

Mimic high resemblance to nature cell structure

- Long-term viability

- Mimicking high resemblance to organs in vivo

- Useful to study morphology and cellular changes by altered ECM interactions


- Short-term viability

- When growing, lack of nutrients can occur affecting cell viability

​- Long culturing time required (at least 21 days)

- Higher cost

- Requires endothelial extracellular matrix (ECM) and growth factor for culturing


Muscle spheroids, endothelia spheroids, etc.

Intestines, lungs, brain, heart, etc.


Tumor modeling, drug screening

​Cancer modeling, organ development

Table 1. The difference between spheroids and organoids [4,5,6]

With active use of 3D structured cells, various research areas are benefiting for their similarity to actual cells inside the living organism. Replacing animal testing is one of the significant advantages that both spheroids and organoids provide. With more advanced research in these cell culturing could furthermore offer well-beings not just to humans but to all living organisms.


1. Admin.facellitate. “Organoid Tumor Models: Benefits and Challenges.” faCellitate, 17 Mar. 2023,

2. Białkowska, Kamila, et al. “Spheroids as a Type of Three-Dimensional Cell Cultures-Examples of Methods of Preparation and the Most Important Application.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 28 Aug. 2020,

3. Gunti, Sreenivasulu, et al. “Organoid and Spheroid Tumor Models: Techniques and Applications.” Cancers, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 19 Feb. 2021,,structure%20and%20function%20%5B7%5D.

4. Oxford English Dictionary, Accessed 23 Oct. 2023.

5. Sakalem, Marna Eliana, et al. “Historical evolution of spheroids and organoids, and possibilities of use in life sciences and medicine.” Biotechnology Journal, vol. 16, no. 5, 2021,

6. “Spheroids vs. Organoids: Which 3D Cell Culture Model Is Best for You?” Novus Biologicals, 2 May 2023,

Objective lens

4x, 10x, 20x

Channel type

Brightfield, GFP, RFP, DAPI

Vessel type

Well plate, flask, dish, slide

Incubator installation


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