3-D Life Hydrogels References

Citations/references to 3-D Life Hydrogels for 3D cell culture

Below you will find some of the scientific papers that have referenced 3-D Life Hydrogels, manufactured by Cellendes GmbH and distributed by Ilex Life Sciences:


  • Chen, J. C., Yang, W., Tseng, L. Y., & Chang, H. L. (2023). Enteric neurospheres retain the capacity to assemble neural networks with motile and metamorphic gliocytes and ganglia. Stem cell research & therapy14(1), 290. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-023-03517-y
Enteric neurospheres were cultivated in a 3D environment embedded in hydrogels, using 3-D Life ToGro Hydrogel kit (G94-1, Cellendes, Germany). RGD-Dextran and CD-Link were prepared according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Enteric neurospheres were suspended in 5 µl SRM and mixed with 18 µl RGD-Dextran. Then, 2 µl CD-Link was added to neurosphere-containing RGD-Dextran to initiate gelation by gently pipetting up and down a few times. During the gel forming process, gel mixture of 2–3 µl was immediately seeded as hydrogel microspheres in the culture dishes and kept stationary for 20 min. Once hydrogels had formed, they were flooded with SRM and kept in the incubator.
  • Militaru, I. V., Rus, A. A., Munteanu, C. V. A., Manica, G., & Petrescu, S. M. (2023). New panel of biomarkers to discriminate between amelanotic and melanotic metastatic melanoma. Frontiers in oncology12, 1061832. (Link)

A cell migration assay was performed using 3-D Life Dextran-PEG Hydrogel SG Kit (Cat. No. G92-1) for setting the migration area limits. 1.5 μl gel was placed in each well of a 96 well plate. 30 minutes later cells were plated around the area covered by the gel. Depending on the cell line, the cells were seeded as follows: 104 cells of A375 and SKMEL28, 2x104 cells of MNT1 and 1.5x104 cells of Me290 and SKMEL23. After 24 hours, the gel was dissolved using 3-D Life Dextranase (Cat. No. D10-1). (3-D Life Dextranase Cellendes GmbH) (1:20 in cell media). Cells were washed one time with PBS and incubated with the corresponding media. Representative images of migrating cells were taken after 2 days. Image acquisition was performed by using Tissue FAXS PLATES software module. Image J software was used to quantify the percentage of area coverage. Statistical analysis was performed using GraphPad Prism 9 software.


  • Albrecht, M., Kogan, Y., Kulms, D., & Sauter, T. (2022). Mechanistically Coupled PK (MCPK) Model to Describe Enzyme Induction and Occupancy Dependent DDI of Dabrafenib Metabolism. Pharmaceutics14(2), 310. (Link)

3-D Life Dextran-CD Hydrogel SG Kit (Cat. No. G93-1) was used in a mechanistically coupled pharmacokinetics (MCPK) model of dabrafenib and its metabolites. The MCPK model is qualitatively based on in vitro and quantitatively on clinical data to describe occupancy-dependent CYP3A4 enzyme induction, accumulation, and drug–drug interaction mechanisms.

  • Krüger et al. (2022). Sensitizer-enhanced two-photon patterning of biomolecules in photoinstructive hydrogels. Communications materials 3 (9) (Link)

By incorporation of TPA-trisNTA into hydrogels (3-D Life PVA-PEG Hydrogel SG Kit, Cat. No. G82-1), a photoinstructive matrix was engineered, which was successively photostructured by 2P laser lithography with various His-tagged proteins. 

  • Del Mistro et al. (2022). Focal adhesion kinase plays a dual role in TRAIL resistance and metastatic outgrowth of malignant melanoma. Cell Death and Disease 13:54 (Link)

For analysis, mature melanoma spheroids were embedded into 3D dextran-based gel-matrices (3-D Life Dextran-CD Hydrogel SG Kit, Cat. No. G93–1)

  • Cipriano et al. (2022). Human immunocompetent choroid-on-chip: a novel tool for studying ocular effects of biological drugs. Communication Biology 5: 52 (Link)

3-D Life Dextran-CD Hydrogel SG Kit (Cat. No. G93-1) and 3-D Life RGD Peptide (Cat. No. 09-P-001) were used in the development of a human immunocompetent Organ-on-Chip - a human cell-based in vitro model of the choroid layer of the eye integrating melanocytes and microvascular endothelial cells, covered by a layer of retinal pigmented epithelial cells.


  • Sun, X., Bavli, D., Kozulin, C., Motzik, A., Buxboim, A., & Ram, O. (2021). CloneSeq - Single-cell clonal 3D culture and analysis protocol. STAR protocols2(4), 100794. (Link)

3-D Life hydrogels and accessories are used in this CloneSeq protocol which combines clonal expansion inside 3D hydrogel spheres and droplet-based RNA sequencing to resolve the limited sensitivity of single-cell approaches.

  • Kuehlbach, C., Hensler, S., & Mueller, M. M. (2021). Recapitulating the Angiogenic Switch in a Hydrogel-Based 3D In Vitro Tumor-Stroma Model. Bioengineering (Basel, Switzerland)8(11), 186. (Link)
3-D Life Dextran-CD Hydrogel SG Kit (Cat. No. G93-1) and 3-D Life RGD Peptide (Cat. No. 09-P-001) were used to establish a 3D organotypic in vitro model containing microtumor spheroids, macrophages, neutrophils, fibroblasts and endothelial cells, allowing for the analysis of tumor–stroma interactions in a controlled and modifiable environment.
  • Hensler et al. (2021). A novel standardized inflammatory cell-modulated 3D tumor tissue model for analysis of tumor-stroma interaction and drug discovery. American Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering 9(4): 110-122 (Link)

Using the 3-D Life Hydrogel system a reproducible tumor-stroma model including macrophages, neutrophils and fibroblasts within a malignant tumor microenvironment was developed. In contrast to collagen-based matrices, where the matrix strongly contracts during a long culture period, the 3-D Life Hydrogel maintained its size. Application: 3D tumor-stroma model for drug discovery. Cells used: primary human fibroblasts; U937 lymphoblast cell line (differentiated to macrophages), HL-60 promyelocytic cell line (differentiated to neutrophils), HaCaT-ras A-5RT3 (tumor keratinocytes), HaCaT-ras A-5IL-6 (tumor keratinocytes), MCF-7 (mamma carcinoma cells), H838 (lung carcinoma cells). Methods used: hydrogel culture in 24 well transwell insert plates. Fibroblasts and immune cells were cultured in the gel, tumor epithelial cells on top of the gel. Cultures with keratinocytes were cultivated at the air-liquid-interface.

  • Nair et al. (2021). Parallelizable Microfluidic Platform to Model and Assess In Vitro Cellular Barriers: Technology and Application to Study the Interaction of 3D Tumor Spheroids with Cellular Barriers. Biosensors 11(9), 314 (Link)

3-D Life Hydrogel was used to create an extracellular matrix-lumen interface within a microfluidic chip. The successful co-culture of tumor spheroids in the gel and the epithelial cell layer on the gel surface shows the suitability of the setup as a cellular barrier model. Application: cell-based assays in microfluidic platforms; in vitro model of cellular barriers; transepithelial cell migration. Cells Used: HT29, MDCK. Methods used: hydrogel in a microfluidic platform; transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) measurements.

  • Wang et al. (2021). Spatial micro-variation of 3D hydrogel stiffness regulates the biomechanical properties of hMSCs. Biofabrication 13: 035051 (Link)

The 3-D Life Hydrogel system was used to generate hydrogels with controlled variations in local stiffness at microscale dimensions to examine mechanotransductional effects on human mesenchymal stem cells. Application: cellular mechanotransduction. Cells Used: human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). Methods used: atomic force microscopy; rheology; Live/dead staining; immunostaining; paraffin embedment and sectioning; hematoxylin-eosin staining; RT-qPCR.

  • Lang et al. (2021). Architecture-Promoted Biomechanical Performance-Tuning of Tissue-Engineered Constructs for Biological Intervertebral Disc Replacement. Materials 14, 2692. (Link)

Chondrons prepared from articular cartilage were cultured in 3-D Life Dextran-PEG Hydrogels modified with 3-D Life RGD Peptide in a specific architectural design. The resulting 3D tissue constructs were mechanically characterized. Application: Tissue engineering. Cells Used: chondrons derived from articular cartilage. Methods used: Live-dead staining; compression loading.

  • Bavli et al. (2021). A highly sensitive analysis platform for the characterization of 3D-cultured single-cell-derived clones. Developmental Cell 56, 1–14. (Link)

Single cells are encapsulated in 3-D Life Hydrogel spheres via an oil-phase ‘‘pinching’’ process in a microfluidic device and subsequently cultured in multiwell plates to generate clones of cells. To culture mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) in these spheres the hydrogel components were mixed with several additives including gelatin. mESCs maintained pluripotency over at least 8 days of culture indicating the suitability of this 3D culturing system to promote stemness of ESCs even without pluripotent media. Application: single cell analysis. Cells Used: PC9 (lung adenocarcinoma, human), ZHBTc4 ESCs (mouse embryonic stem cells). Methods used: microsphere production, microsphere cultivation, scRNA-seq, fluorescent labeling of hydrogel via biotin-streptavidin attachment.

  • Bavli et al. (2021). CloneSeq - Single-cell clonal 3D culture and analysis protocol. STAR Protocols 2, 100794 (Link)

Detailed protocol on the generation of microspheres for single cell encapsulation.

  • Yin et al. (2021). Cell migration regulated by spatially controlled stiffness inside composition-tunable three-dimensional dextran hydrogels. Adv. Mater. Interfaces 8, 2100494 (Link)

The authors studied the regulation of cell migration by tuning the spatial stiffness of hydrogels. Migration velocity and cell morphology were analyzed to charaterize the dependence of cell migration on the heterogeneous stiffness in subcellular scale. Application: mechanotransduction. Cells Used: C2C12 murine myoblasts. Methods used: live/dead cell staining; cell tracking; rheological and atomic force microscopic measurements of hydrogels; scanning electron microscopy of hydrogels; fluorescent staining (phalloidin) and fluorescent antibody staining; fluorescence imaging of cells in gels.

  • Jung et al. (2021). Non-invasive analysis of pancreas organoids in synthetic hydrogels defines material-cell interactions and luminal composition. Biomaterials Science 9(16):5415-5426 (Link)


  • Georgakopoulos et al. (2020). Long-term expansion, genomic stability and in vivo safety of adult human pancreas organoids. BMC Developmental Biology 20:4 (Link)

Cellendes hydrogel is used to culture human pancreas organoids in a chemically definded 3D matrix.

  • Rothbauer et al. (2020). Monitoring tissue-level remodelling during inflammatory arthritis using a three-dimensional synovium-on-a-chip with non-invasive light scattering biosensing. Lab Chip 20(8): 1461-1471 (Link)

3-D Life Dextran-PEG Hydrogel FG Kit (Cat. No. FG90-1) was used in the development of a synovium-on-a-chip system containing an embedded organic photodetector array to study the onset and progression of inflammatory arthritis using light scattering technology.

  • Trennheuser et al. (2020). 3D Culture and Characterization of Blood-Brain Barrier Endothelial Cells in a New Microfluidic Platform. Research Square (Link)

The microfluidic TransBBB chip (microfluidic ChipShop GmbH, Jena, Germany) was filled 3-D Life PVA-CD Hydrogel SG (Cat. No. G83-1) to create a research model that allows the investigation of barrier characteristics of the bloon-brain barrier (BBB) and drug transport under physiological and pathological conditions.


  • Friedrich et al. (2019). Stretch in Focus: 2D Inplane Cell Stretch Systems for Studies of Cardiac Mechano-Signaling. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 27;7:55 (Link)

Murine ventricular cardiomyocytes were embedded in disks of PVA-PEG/RGD hydrogels and placed on a stretching device (IsoStretcher) to examine the conversion of mechanical stimuli into Ca2+ signaling. The cardiomyocytes in the gel were loaded with the Ca2+ indicator Fluo-4 AM and calcium transients were recorded upon radial stretching of the cells.

  • Kraus et al. (2019). Evaluation of a 3D Human Artificial Lymph Node as Test Model for the Assessment of Immunogenicity of Protein Aggregates. J Pharm Sci.108(7):2358-2366 (Link)

3-D Life Hydrogel is used in an artificial lymph node model using a perfused bioreactor system. PBMCs and stromal cells are cultured in this model.

  • Zippel et al. (2019). Migration Assay for Leukemic Cells in a 3D Matrix Toward a Chemoattractant. Methods Mol Biol. 2017:97-107 (Link)

The Dextran-CD Hydrogel FG is used for an in vitro 3D chemotaxis assay for leukemic cells. A detailed protocol describes the setup of the assay in µ-Slides Chemotaxis (ibidi GmbH, Munich,Germany), cell tracking and quantitative analysis of the cell movement towards the chemoattractant.

  • Shen et al. (2019). Identification and integrative analysis of microRNAs and mRNAs involved in proliferation and invasion of pressure‑treated human liver cancer cell lines. Mol Med Rep. 20(1):375-387 (Link)

Liver cancer cells were embedded in a 3-D Life Hydrogel to analyze the effect of pressure on their proliferative, migratory and invasive ability in a 3D environment.

  • Xue et al. (2019). Matrix stiffness regulates arteriovenous differentiation of endothelial progenitor cells during vasculogenesis in nude mice. Cell Proliferation 52:e12557 (Link)

The work shows how different stiffnesses of 3-D Life Hydrogels can direct the differentiation of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) into a venous or arterial phenotype. The gels injected into nude mice support the in vivo formation of functional blood vessels. Application: in vivo vasculogenesis. Cells used: murine endothelial progenitor cells. Methods used: hydrogel injection into mice; paraffin embedment of gels; antibody staining of tissue slices; dissolution of gels with dextranase and subsequent analysis of cells with qPCR and Western blotting.

  • Wang et al. (2019). Characterization and Analysis of Collective Cellular Behaviors in 3D Dextran Hydrogels with Homogenous and Clustered RGD Compositions. Biomaterials 35(10): 3273–3280. (Link)

The authors took an innovative approach and used the flexibility of the 3-D Life Hydrogel system to design a clustered RGD Peptide microenvironment to study patterns of cell adhesion ligands on cell behavior. Cells Used: NIH–3T3 fibroblasts, C2C12 cells (myoblasts, murine). Methods used: Live/Dead viability assay, bright-field and confocal microscopy, phalloidin staining, DAPI staining.


  • Rothdiener M. et al. (2018). Human osteoarthritic chondrons outnumber patient‐ and joint‐matched chondrocytes in hydrogel culture—Future application in autologous cell‐based OA cartilage repair? Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 12:e1206-e1220 (Link)

The paper shows a six week cultivation of chondrons in 3-D Life Dextran-PEG Hydrogel.

  • Hellwig, C. et al. (2018). Culture of human neurospheres in 3D scaffolds for developmental neurotoxicity testing. Toxicology in vitro 52:106-115 (Link)

A novel peptide modification of 3-D Life Hydrogel was used to establish a neurosphere outgrowth assay for developmental neurotoxicity compound testing. The work shows how cell migration, differentiation to neurons and formation of neuronal networks is supported by the hydrogel.

  • Grobe, H. et al. (2018). A Rac1-FMNL2 signaling module affects cell-cell contact formation independent of Cdc42 and membrane protrusions. PLoS One 13:e0194716 (Link)

3-D Life hydrogel supplemented with RGD Peptide was used for long term culture (14 days) of human breast epithelial cells (MCF10A). Successful lumen formation by spheroids was observed with wildtype cells and investigated with mutated cells in this type of cultures.

  • Huang et al. (2018). Three-dimensional hydrogel is suitable for targeted investigation of amoeboid migration of glioma cells. Mol Med Rep.17:250-256 (Link)

3-D Life Dextran-CD hydrogel modified with RGD Peptide was used to quantitatively evaluate amoeboid versus mesenchymal cell migration of glioma cells. The work shows how 3-D Life Hydrogel, in contrast to 2D culture, supports drug evaluation aiming at the efficient inhibition of both, amoeboid and mesenchymal cell migration in 3D culture. Applications: drug evaluation, cell migration analysis. Methods used: immunofluorescent staining, fluorescence microscopy, chemotaxis in ibidi µ-slides.

  • He et al. (2018). Cartilage intermediate layer protein is regulated by mechanical stress and affects extracellular matrix synthesis. Molecular Medicine Reports 17: 6130-6137 (Link)

Cartilage intermediate layer protein (CILP) and aggrecan and collagen II synthesis were measured in human nucleus pulposus (NP) cells in response to mechanical stimuli, including cyclic compressive stress and cyclic tensile strain. Application: Effects of mechanical stress on protein expression. Cells used: nucleus pulposus cells. Methods used: NP cells were embedded in cylinders of 3-D Life Dextran-PEG FG hydrogels (Cat. No. G90-1). The hydrogel cylinders were introduced into Bioflex 6-well compression plates and mechanical stress was applied using a FX-5000C™ Flexercell system (Flexcell International). Cells were extracted from hydrogels using 3-D Life Dextranase (Cat. No. D10-1) and subjected to RT-PCR and Western blotting analysis.

  • Miyakawa et al. (2018). Development of a cell-based assay to identify hepatitis B virus entry inhibitors targeting the sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide. Oncotarget 9(34), 23681-23694 (Link)

Spheroids of HepG2 cells were grown in 3-D Life Dextran-CD Hydrogels. Application: spheroid culture. Cells Used: HepG2. Methods used: Immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy.


  • Friedrich, O. et al. (2017). Adding dimension to cellular mechanotransduction: Advances in biomedical engineering of multiaxial cell-stretch systems and their application to cardiovascular biomechanics and mechano-signaling. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 130:170-191 (Link)

The effect of multiaxial cell stretch on adult ventricular cardiomyocytes (CM) embedded in 3-D Life Cellendes hydrogel of different stiffnesses (Young modulus of 1 kPa, 4-9 kPa and > than 10 kPa) was examined on a cell stretch system (IsoStretcher). Single CMs were embedded in SG-PVA-PEG hydrogels modified with RGD Peptide to allow for adhesion of cells to the surrounding hydrogel. Stretch-induced Ca2+ influx was measured with the Ca2+ indicator Fluo-4 AM which was mixed into the hydrogel before gelation.

  • Ayenehdeh et al. (2017) Immunomodulatory and protective effects of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells in an allograft islet composite transplantation for experimental autoimmune type 1 diabetes. Immunol Lett.188:21-31 (Link)

3-D Life Hydrogel was used to co-culture pancreatic islets with adipose tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells (AT-MSCs) to determine the effect of AT-MSCs on islet insulin secretion. Hydrogel cultures were examined in vitro to determine insulin secretion as well as transplanted in diabetic mice to determine the effect on blood glucose levels. The implanted hydrogel prevented passage of immune cells to the allograft, as shown after recovery of the implant and subsequent processing for histopathological examinations. Islets and cells were recovered from explanted hydrogels by dextranase treatment and subjected to RT-PCR analyses.

  • Angres, B. and Wurst, H. (2017) 3-D Life biomimetic hydrogels: A modular system for cell environment design. Przyborski, S. (ed.) Technology Platforms for 3D Cell Culture, A User`s Guide. pp. 197-221. (Link)

This book chapter describes in detail the 3-D Life Hydrogel platform technology as well as selected applications of in vitro cultures.

  • Nugraha et al. (2017). Monitoring and manipulating cellular crosstalk during kidney fibrosis inside a 3D in vitro co-culture. Sci Rep. 7:14490 (Link)

A disease model of kidney fibrosis was developed using 3-D Life Dextran hydrogel by co-culturing human kidney epithelial cells and human fibroblasts in two layers of hydrogels of different biomimetic modifications. The work shows a unique and successful model system for screening of new molecules capable to interfere and modulate the dialogue between epithelial and mesenchymal cells. Application: target identification and drug evaluation. Methods used: immunofluorescent staining and fluorescence imaging, drug administration, transmission electron microscopy, proliferation assay, RNA extraction for gene expression array.

  • Noguchi et al. (2017) Molecular analysis of keratocystic odontogenic tumor cell lines derived from sporadic and basal cell nevus syndrome patients. Int. J. Oncol. 51:1731-1738 (Link)

The authors established two keratocystic odontogenic tumor (KCOT) cell lines which they cultured in PVA-PEG-based 3-D Life Hydrogels modified with RGD Peptide. Stainings of the actin cytoskeleton with rhodamine phalloidin and nuclei with DAPI showed spheroid formation with different characteristics depending on the patient's disease and origin of the KCOT cell line.


  • Sardi, M. et al. (2016) Modeling Human Immunity In Vitro: Improving artificial lymph node physiology by stromal cells. Appl Vitr Toxicol. 2016:2(3);143-150. (Link)

3-D Life Hydrogel is used to develop an artificial lymph node model using a perfused bioreactor system. PBMCs, antigen-presenting dendritic cells, and MSC-derived stromal cells are co-cultivated.

  • Koenig, G., et al. (2016) Cell-laden hydrogel/titanium microhybrids: Site-specific cell delivery to metallic implants for improved integration. Acta Biomater. 2016 Mar;33:301-10. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2016.01.023. Epub 2016 Jan 21. (Link)

Co-culture of HUVECs and fibroblasts in 3-D Life Hydrogels to assess titanium-hydrogel-cell compatibility for future implantation strategies.


  • Grikscheit, K. et al. (2015) Junctional actin assembly is mediated by Formin-like 2 downstream of Rac 1. J. Cell Biol. 209:367-76. (Link)

Molecular mechanisms of de novo epithelial lumen formation is studied in long term cultures of MCF10A mammary epithelial cells in 3-D Life Hydrogels.

  • Charwat, V. et al. (2015) Potential and limitations of microscopy and Raman spectroscopy for live-cell analysis of 3D cell cultures. J Biotechnol. 205:70-81 (Link)

Cancer cells and fibroblasts are analyzed alone and in co-culture in 3-D Life Hydrogels using Raman spectroscopy.


  • Sun, J. et al. (2014) Geometric control of capillary architecture via cell-matrix mechanical interactions. Biomaterials. 35:3273-80. (Link)

3-D Life Dextran-PEG Hydrogel was mixed with Matrigel to adjust the stiffness of Matrigel while maintaining the ligand density for cell adhesion.

  • Rimann, M. et al. (2014) Automation of 3D Cell Culture Using Chemically Defined Hydrogels. J. Lab. Autom. 19:191-197 (Link)

Automated drug screening of tumor spheroids in 3-D Life Hydrogels. Demonstrates the different drug sensitvities of tumor cells in 2D versus 3D cell culture.


  • Ueda, E., et al. (2012) DropletMicroArray: Facile Formation of Arrays of Microdroplets and Hydrogels Micropads for Cell Screening Applications. Lab Chip 12:5218-5224 (Link)

Preparation of hydrogel microarrays with 3-D Life Hydrogel for research and high-throughput screening.

  • Rimann, M., Graf-Hausner, U. (2012) Synthetic 3D Multicellular Systems for Drug Development. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 23:803-809 (Link)

Review on synthetic 3D cell culture systems, including 3-D Life Hydrogel.

  • Neugebauer, U., et al. (2012) From Infection to Detection: Imaging S aureus-host Interactions. Biomed. Tech. (Berl) (Link)

3-D Life Hydrogel is used to immobilize bacteria for Raman spectroscopy.


  • Benz, K., et al. (2010) Polyethylene Glycol-Crosslinked Serum Albumin/Hyaluronan Hydrogel for the Cultivation of Chondrogenic Cell Types. A Adv. Eng. Mater. 12:B539-B551 (Link)

3-D Life Hydrogel technology is used with maleimide-modified serum albumin for the cultivation of chondrogenic cells.

  • Scholz, B., et al. (2010) Suppression of Adverse Angiogenesis in an Albumin-based Hydrogel for Articular Cartilage and Intervertebral Disc Regeneration. Eur. Cell. Mater. 20:24-37 (Link)

3-D Life Hydrogel technology used with maleimide-modified serum albumin.

To learn more, please visit the 3-D Life Biomimetic Hydrogels page.

The content on this page has been adapted from Cellendes GmbH. Ilex Life Sciences LLC is an official distributor of Cellendes 3-D Life Hydrogel products.