Histocultures and Their Use


Histocultures are three‐dimensional tissues that are put into growth medium either with a collagen gel support or simply free floating. Histocultures maintain their in vivo‐like phenotype in contrast to monolayer cultures. Histocultures have many uses, including culture and sensitivity testing of patient tumour to choose optimal individualised treatment. Clinical trials have demonstrated the clinical utility of the histoculture drug response assay (HDRA) to determine effective treatment for multiple types of cancer. The histoculture of skin to study hair growth and screen drugs that enhance or inhibit hair growth has enabled the discovery of hair follicle‐targeting cancer liposomes to deliver genes and other molecules to the hair follicles. The histoculture of lymphoid organs has been developed to study antibody production and effects of viruses on immune cells. Stem cell growth and differentiation are now being studied in histoculture.

Key Concepts:

  • Histocultures are the culture of intact tissues containing multiple cell types.

  • Histocultures retain their in vivo phenotype in contrast to monolayer cultures.

  • Histocultured tumour tissue contains cancer cells and stromal elements interacting with each other in their native structure.

  • Histocultured tumours can be tested for drug sensitivity to design effective individualised therapy for each patient.

  • Histocultured lymphoid tissue can enable the study of antibody production and virus infection in vitro.

  • Histocultured skin enables hair growth in vitro.

  • Histocultured stem cells cancer differentiates in vitro.

Keywords: histology; three‐dimensional tissue culture; tumours; chemosensitivity; lymph nodes; immune function; skin; hair growth; stem cells; differentiation

Figure 1.

Histoculture of nestin GFP‐expressing hair follicle stem cells on Gelfoam®.



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Further Reading

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Hoffman, Robert M(Oct 2010) Histocultures and Their Use. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002573.pub2]