Tissue culture

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Flasks containing tissue culture growth medium which provides nourishment for the growing of cells. Tissue culture vials nci-vol-2142-300.jpg
Flasks containing tissue culture growth medium which provides nourishment for the growing of cells.

Tissue culture is the growth of tissues or cells in an artificial medium separate from the parent organism. This technique is also called micropropagation. This is typically facilitated via use of a liquid, semi-solid, or solid growth medium, such as broth or agar. Tissue culture commonly refers to the culture of animal cells and tissues, with the more specific term plant tissue culture being used for plants. The term "tissue culture" was coined by American pathologist Montrose Thomas Burrows. [1]


Historical use

In 1885 Wilhelm Roux removed a section of the medullary plate of an embryonic chicken and maintained it in a warm saline solution for several days, establishing the basic principle of tissue culture. In 1907 the zoologist Ross Granville Harrison demonstrated the growth of frog embryonic cells that would give rise to nerve cells in a medium of clotted lymph. In 1913, E. Steinhardt, C. Israeli, and R. A. Lambert grew vaccinia virus in fragments of guinea pig corneal tissue. [2] In 1996, the first use of regenerative tissue was used to replace a small length of urethra, which led to the understanding that the technique of obtaining samples of tissue, growing it outside the body without a scaffold, and reapplying it, can be used for only small distances of less than 1 cm. [3]

Gottlieb Haberlandt first pointed out the possibilities of the culture of isolated tissues, plant tissue culture. [4] He suggested that the potentialities of individual cells via tissue culture as well as that the reciprocal influences of tissues on one another could be determined by this method. Since Haberlandt's original assertions, methods for tissue and cell culture have been realized, leading to significant discoveries in biology and medicine. His original idea, presented in 1902, was called totipotentiality: “Theoretically all plant cells are able to give rise to a complete plant.” [5] [6] [7]

Modern usage

Cultured cells growing in growth medium Cho cells adherend2.jpg
Cultured cells growing in growth medium

In modern usage, "tissue culture" generally refers to the growth of cells from a tissue from a multicellular organism in vitro. These cells may be cells isolated from a donor organism (primary cells) or an immortalised cell line. The cells are bathed in a culture medium, which contains essential nutrients and energy sources necessary for the cells' survival. [8] Thus, in its broader sense, "tissue culture" is often used interchangeably with "cell culture". On the other hand, the strict meaning of "tissue culture" refers to the culturing of tissue pieces, i.e. explant culture.

Tissue culture is an important tool for the study of the biology of cells from multicellular organisms. It provides an in vitro model of the tissue in a well defined environment which can be easily manipulated and analysed. In animal tissue culture, cells may be grown as two-dimensional monolayers (conventional culture) or within fibrous scaffolds or gels to attain more naturalistic three-dimensional tissue-like structures (3D culture). Eric Simon, in a 1988 NIH SBIR grant report, showed that electrospinning could be used to produced nano- and submicron-scale polymeric fibrous scaffolds specifically intended for use as in vitro cell and tissue substrates. This early use of electrospun fibrous lattices for cell culture and tissue engineering showed that various cell types would adhere to and proliferate upon polycarbonate fibers. It was noted that as opposed to the flattened morphology typically seen in 2D culture, cells grown on the electrospun fibers exhibited a more rounded 3-dimensional morphology generally observed of tissues in vivo. [9]

Plant tissue culture in particular is concerned with the growing of entire plants from small pieces of plant tissue, cultured in medium. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>In vitro</i> Latin term meaning outside a natural biological environment

In vitro studies are performed with microorganisms, cells, or biological molecules outside their normal biological context. Colloquially called "test-tube experiments", these studies in biology and its subdisciplines are traditionally done in labware such as test tubes, flasks, Petri dishes, and microtiter plates. Studies conducted using components of an organism that have been isolated from their usual biological surroundings permit a more detailed or more convenient analysis than can be done with whole organisms; however, results obtained from in vitro experiments may not fully or accurately predict the effects on a whole organism. In contrast to in vitro experiments, in vivo studies are those conducted in living organisms, including humans, and whole plants.

Embryo Multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development

An embryo is the early stage of development of a multicellular organism. In organisms that reproduce sexually, embryonic development is the part of the life cycle that begins just after fertilization of the female egg cell by the male sperm cell. The resulting fusion of these two cells produces a single-celled zygote that undergoes many cell divisions that produce cells known as blastomeres. The blastomeres are arranged as a solid ball that when reaching a certain size, called a morula, takes in fluid to create a cavity called a blastocoel. The structure is then termed a blastula, or a blastocyst in mammals.

Extracellular matrix Network of proteins and molecules outside cells that provides structural support for cells

In biology, the extracellular matrix (ECM) is a three-dimensional network consisting of extracellular macromolecules and minerals, such as collagen, enzymes, glycoproteins and hydroxyapatite that provide structural and biochemical support to surrounding cells. Because multicellularity evolved independently in different multicellular lineages, the composition of ECM varies between multicellular structures; however, cell adhesion, cell-to-cell communication and differentiation are common functions of the ECM.

Tissue engineering Biomedical engineering discipline

Tissue engineering is a biomedical engineering discipline that uses a combination of cells, engineering, materials methods, and suitable biochemical and physicochemical factors to restore, maintain, improve, or replace different types of biological tissues. Tissue engineering often involves the use of cells placed on tissue scaffolds in the formation of new viable tissue for a medical purpose but is not limited to applications involving cells and tissue scaffolds. While it was once categorized as a sub-field of biomaterials, having grown in scope and importance it can be considered as a field of its own.

Gametogenesis Biological process

Gametogenesis is a biological process by which diploid or haploid precursor cells undergo cell division and differentiation to form mature haploid gametes. Depending on the biological life cycle of the organism, gametogenesis occurs by meiotic division of diploid gametocytes into various gametes, or by mitosis. For example, plants produce gametes through mitosis in gametophytes. The gametophytes grow from haploid spores after sporic meiosis. The existence of a multicellular, haploid phase in the life cycle between meiosis and gametogenesis is also referred to as alternation of generations.

Embryonic stem cell Pluripotent stem cell of the inner cell mass of the blastocyst

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst, an early-stage pre-implantation embryo. Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 4–5 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50–150 cells. Isolating the inner cell mass (embryoblast) using immunosurgery results in destruction of the blastocyst, a process which raises ethical issues, including whether or not embryos at the pre-implantation stage have the same moral considerations as embryos in the post-implantation stage of development.

Cell culture Process by which cells are grown under controlled conditions

Cell culture is the process by which cells are grown under controlled conditions, generally outside their natural environment. After the cells of interest have been isolated from living tissue, they can subsequently be maintained under carefully controlled conditions. These conditions vary for each cell type, but generally consist of a suitable vessel with a substrate or medium that supplies the essential nutrients (amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals), growth factors, hormones, and gases (CO2, O2), and regulates the physio-chemical environment (pH buffer, osmotic pressure, temperature). Most cells require a surface or an artificial substrate to form an adherent culture as a monolayer (one single-cell thick), whereas others can be grown free floating in a medium as a suspension culture. The lifespan of most cells is genetically determined, but some cell culturing cells have been “transformed” into immortal cells which will reproduce indefinitely if the optimal conditions are provided.

Organogenesis is the phase of embryonic development that starts at the end of gastrulation and continues until birth. During organogenesis, the three germ layers formed from gastrulation form the internal organs of the organism.

Stem-cell line Culture of stem cells that can be propagated indefinitely

A stem cell line is a group of stem cells that is cultured in vitro and can be propagated indefinitely. Stem cell lines are derived from either animal or human tissues and come from one of three sources: embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells, or induced stem cells. They are commonly used in research and regenerative medicine.

Articular cartilage, most notably that which is found in the knee joint, is generally characterized by very low friction, high wear resistance, and poor regenerative qualities. It is responsible for much of the compressive resistance and load bearing qualities of the knee joint and, without it, walking is painful to impossible. Osteoarthritis is a common condition of cartilage failure that can lead to limited range of motion, bone damage and invariably, pain. Due to a combination of acute stress and chronic fatigue, osteoarthritis directly manifests itself in a wearing away of the articular surface and, in extreme cases, bone can be exposed in the joint. Some additional examples of cartilage failure mechanisms include cellular matrix linkage rupture, chondrocyte protein synthesis inhibition, and chondrocyte apoptosis. There are several different repair options available for cartilage damage or failure.

In biology, explant culture is a technique to organotypically culture cells from a piece or pieces of tissue or organ removed from a plant or animal. The term explant can be applied to samples obtained from any part of the organism. The extraction process is extensively sterilized, and the culture can be typically used for two to three weeks.

Gottlieb Haberlandt Austrian botanist (1854–1945)

Gottlieb Haberlandt was an Austrian botanist. He was the son of European 'soybean' pioneer Professor Friedrich J. Haberlandt. His son Ludwig Haberlandt was an early reproductive physiologist now given credit as the 'grandfather' of the birth control pill.

Neural tissue engineering is a specific sub-field of tissue engineering. Neural tissue engineering is primarily a search for strategies to eliminate inflammation and fibrosis upon implantation of foreign substances. Often foreign substances in the form of grafts and scaffolds are implanted to promote nerve regeneration and to repair damage caused to nerves of both the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) by an injury.

A nerve guidance conduit is an artificial means of guiding axonal regrowth to facilitate nerve regeneration and is one of several clinical treatments for nerve injuries. When direct suturing of the two stumps of a severed nerve cannot be accomplished without tension, the standard clinical treatment for peripheral nerve injuries is autologous nerve grafting. Due to the limited availability of donor tissue and functional recovery in autologous nerve grafting, neural tissue engineering research has focused on the development of bioartificial nerve guidance conduits as an alternative treatment, especially for large defects. Similar techniques are also being explored for nerve repair in the spinal cord but nerve regeneration in the central nervous system poses a greater challenge because its axons do not regenerate appreciably in their native environment.

Plant tissue culture is a collection of techniques used to maintain or grow plant cells, tissues or organs under sterile conditions on a nutrient culture medium of known composition. It is widely used to produce clones of a plant in a method known as micropropagation. Different techniques in plant tissue culture may offer certain advantages over traditional methods of propagation, including:

Nano-scaffolding is a medical process used to regrow tissue and bone, including limbs and organs. The nano-scaffold is a three-dimensional structure composed of polymer fibers very small that are scaled from a Nanometer scale. Developed by the American military, the medical technology uses a microscopic apparatus made of fine polymer fibers called a scaffold. Damaged cells grip to the scaffold and begin to rebuild missing bone and tissue through tiny holes in the scaffold. As tissue grows, the scaffold is absorbed into the body and disappears completely.

Tissue engineering of oral mucosa combines cells, materials and engineering to produce a three-dimensional reconstruction of oral mucosa. It is meant to simulate the real anatomical structure and function of oral mucosa. Tissue engineered oral mucosa shows promise for clinical use, such as the replacement of soft tissue defects in the oral cavity. These defects can be divided into two major categories: the gingival recessions which are tooth-related defects, and the non tooth-related defects. Non tooth-related defects can be the result of trauma, chronic infection or defects caused by tumor resection or ablation. Common approaches for replacing damaged oral mucosa are the use of autologous grafts and cultured epithelial sheets.

A 3D cell culture is an artificially created environment in which biological cells are permitted to grow or interact with their surroundings in all three dimensions. Unlike 2D environments, a 3D cell culture allows cells in vitro to grow in all directions, similar to how they would in vivo. These three-dimensional cultures are usually grown in bioreactors, small capsules in which the cells can grow into spheroids, or 3D cell colonies. Approximately 300 spheroids are usually cultured per bioreactor.

Montrose Thomas Burrows American surgeon and pathologist

Montrose Thomas Burrows was a US surgeon and pathologist specializing in cancer research and surgery. He was born into a Scots-Irish Presbyterian family in Halstead, Kansas..

Mouse embryonic fibroblast

Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts (MEFs) are a type of fibroblast prepared from mouse embryo. MEFs show a spindle shape when cultured in vitro, a typical feature of fibroblasts. The MEF is a limited cell line. After several transmission, MEFs will senesce and finally die off. Nevertheless, researchers can use several strategies, like virus infection or repeated transmission to immortalize MEF cells, which can let MEFs grown indefinitely in spite of some changes in characters.


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  2. Steinhardt, Edna; Israeli, C.; Lambert, R. A. (1913). "Studies on the Cultivation of the Virus of Vaccinia". The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 13 (2): 294–300. doi:10.1093/infdis/13.2.294. ISSN   0022-1899. JSTOR   30073371.
  3. Atala, Anthony (2009), "Growing new organs", TEDMED, retrieved 2021-08-23
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  6. Noé, A. C. (1934). "Gottlieb Haberlandt". Plant Physiol. 9 (4): 850–855. doi:10.1104/pp.9.4.850. PMC   439112 . PMID   16652925.
  7. Plant Tissue Culture. 100 years since Gottlieb Haberlandt. Laimer, Margit; Rücker, Waltraud (Eds.) 2003. Springer ISBN   978-3-211-83839-6
  8. Martin, Bernice M. (2013-12-01). Tissue Culture Techniques: An Introduction. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 29–30. ISBN   978-1-4612-0247-9.
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