Best Practices for Pipetting 3D Cell Culture Hydrogels

Authors: Sandra Söderholm, Emilia Varhimo, Lauri Paasonen, Tony Kiuru | Last Updated: July 6, 2020


Drug discovery and stem-cell based therapies continue to be areas of interest in the field of scientific research. Within these specialized areas of study is a growing interest in three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures. However, the preparation of these cell cultures can be a difficult process, due in part to the following:  

  • Low reproducibility between samples
  • Inadequate mixing practices 
  • Cross-contamination
  • Higher rates of variation among experiments  

A major contributor to the listed issues can be poor pipetting technique. Pipetting and mixing viscous hydrogels and sensitive cells can be especially challenging. Picus® Nxt pipettes are ideal for the preparation of hydrogels as they enable standardization of the sample preparation workflow, erasing the potential negative impact of personal pipetting practices. For 3D cell cultures such as spheroid applications, GrowDex® is an excellent choice of hydrogel: it is easy to use, animal-free, and has no batch-to-batch variation. In contrast to many other hydrogels, GrowDex® does not require polymerization, allowing it to be handled at room temperature - making the product easy to work with and promoting reproducible results. 

  • Document type: Application Note
  • Page count: 8
  • Read time: 11 minutes

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Commonly Asked Questions

What are the advantages of 3D cell culture? 

3D cell cultures provide the most accurate representation of cells in their real environment, including how they grow and how they are affected by various factors like disease. With more structural complexity, these cell cultures are more relevant than traditional 2D cell cultures.  

What is the best way to pipette viscous liquids?

One of the best ways to pipette viscous liquids is the reverse pipetting method using an air displacement pipette. This is a preferred method for liquids with tendencies to foam or be retained in the pipette tip.

How does pipette technique affect 3D cell culture reproducibility?

Many available hydrogels are temperature sensitive, meaning the use of a pipette tip that is not cooled down can adversely affect the cell culture formation. Additionally, careless mixing can create high variation and low viability.      

This Resource is Designed for:

  • Lab Researchers and Managers

  • Lab Technicians

  • Pipette Users

  • Scientists

  • Engineers

  • Lab Post Docs

Applications Supported:

  • Life Science Research

  • Drug Discovery

  • Stem-Cell Based Therapies

  • 3D Cell Culture

  • Pipetting

  • Picus Nxt Pipettes

  • GrowDex Hydrogel

  • Safetyspace Filter Tips

  • Low Retention Pipette Tips

Fig 1. Application Note Cover Page

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