What is Alvetex?

Alvetex® is a highly porous polystyrene scaffold designed for 3D cell culture.

Cells grown in Alvetex possess a natural tissue-like structure that enables them to function in a more physiologically relevant manner.

Alvetex 3D cell culture enables cells maintain their in vivo morphology, behavior and responsiveness within an in vitro model system.

Alvetex is a unique cellular environment

Manufactured to the highest standards of consistency each disc is engineered to a thickness of just 200 microns with pore sizes of 36-40 microns. No cell is ever further than 100 microns from the nutrient source enabling easily exchange of nutrients, gases and waste products by passive diffusion across short distances.

Say goodbye to risks of foreign unknown materials such as proteins or cytokines of animal origin – unlike conventional materials used in cell culture Alvetex is made from polystyrene and is completely inert.

Alvetex has been designed for simple and routine use. It uses conventional cell culture plasticware. Therefore any cell biologist can get into Alvetex 3D cell culture.

  • No specialist equipment is required
  • No changes to media and optimized cell feeding protocols
  • Compatible with the majority of down stream analytical techniques.

Maintain natural cell shape and morphology

In conventional 2D cell culture, cells come into contact with the flat surface of the culture vessel (e.g. Petri dish, flask or multi-well plate). In this unnatural environment cells become flattened against the substrate. In this abnormally thin structure there has been significant re-modelling of the internal cellular components. The entire cytoskeleton is re-modelled and organelles such as the nucleus are flattened.

Comparison of the Structure of Fibroblasts in conventional 2D cell culture and 3D cell culture using Alvetex Scaffold



Confocal imaging of cells (fibroblasts) grown in 2D (left image) and in Alvetex Scaffold (right image) revealing the dramatic differences between 2D and 3D growth. In the 2D model when looking from above the outline of the cell is normal but from the side one can see how the cell has become very flattened. The same applies to the nucleus where looking from the side one can see how flattened the nucleus become. In contrast the profile of the cell cytoskeleton and call nucleus either form top or side when viewed in the Alvetex Scaffold is able to maintains its natural spherical shape. There is extensive evidence to show that cell shape modifies gene expression, protein translation and in turn function and this is widely reported in the literature including the two articles detailed.

Alvetex has been designed to stop this shape change from happening. Cells enter the scaffold where they retain their natural 3D architecture and do not flatten out like in conventional 2D cell culture. By introducing the vertical dimension Alvetex Scaffold allows cells to retain their natural 3D form and thus help preserve the natural attributes of the cell. This can be also viewed by seeded at low density and performing laser confocal imaging to reveal individual cell shape.

Comparison of Primary rat hepatocytes structure between conventional 2D cell culture and 3D cell culture using Alvetex Scaffold


Alvetex introduces the vertical space, allowing cells to retain their 3D morphology and organization thus preserving the natural attributes of the cell.

Other examples of how in Alvetex 3D cell culture, cells maintains natural cell shape and morphology

Reproduce cell and tissue organisation

Alvetex not only preserves the native 3D shape of individual cells, it also acts to bring cells together in a more natural manner. This results in the formation of tissue-like structures and cell-to-cell interactions that are more representative of normal tissue function.

Create 3D co-culture models

Alvetex is the ideal format to enhance the physiological relevance of your in vitro model and create tissue-like structures in vitro with multiple cell types. Cells of different types can be brought together in 3D co-culture models, either as mixed populations or as discrete layers of different cell types.

Improved Cell and Tissue Function

Despite tens of thousands of drugs being screened in 2D assay formats, few have successfully entered the preclinical in vivo model systems. Comparision of 2D and 3D cell culture highlights the dramatic differences in the physiological responses and experimental data produced.

For researchers wishing to replicate the in vivo like situation to get a better understanding of basic biology, mechanism of drug action, and disease modeling – Alvetex enables more sophisticated investigation and greatly enhances the relevance and value of the data generated.