Current stem cell research greatly depends on suitable in vitro-cultivation approaches, enabling expansion, differentiation,
cryopreservation or genetic modification of stem cells outside the organism. Particularly regarding neurodegenerative
diseases, regeneration of complex injuries or cancer, this already great field of applications is even broadened
by in vitro-culture approaches for stem cell-based therapy. Here, 2D-concepts of cultivation focus on cell differentiation
or short-time expansion for further transplantation as well as the elucidation of molecular mechanisms of a certain disease
for drug targeting.
However, latest studies suggest potential beneficial effects of 3D cultivation strategies. In contrast to 2D-culture, the conditions
of the endogenous stem cell niche are mirrored more closely, leading to improved cellular viability and differentiation
behavior. The use of 3D-cultivated stem cell-products may provide the advantages of direct transplantation, enhanced
graft adherence and higher cellular loading densities within the transplant. Thus, together with the increased differentiation
potential of stem cells under such conditions, 3D-culture may provide a powerful tool for regenerative medicine.
Here, we summarize current 3D-cultivation approaches for adult, embryonic and cancer stem cells, highlighting their potential
scientific and clinical impacts.