In recent years, there has been an increased interest in stem cells for the purpose of regenerative medicine to deliver a wide range of therapies to treat many diseases. However, two-dimensional cultures of stem cells are of limited use when studying the mechanism of pathogenesis of diseases and the feasibility of a treatment. Therefore, research is focusing on the strengths of stem cells in the three-dimensional (3D) structures mimicking organs, that is, organoids, or organ-on-chip, for modeling human biology and disease. As 3D technology advances, it is necessary to know which signals stem cells need to multiply and differentiate into complex structures. This holds especially true for the complex 3D structure of the inner ear. Recent work suggests that although other factors play a role, the extracellular matrix (ECM), including its topography, is crucial to mimic a stem cell niche in vitro and to drive stem cells toward the formation of the tissue of interest. Technological developments have led to the investigation of biomaterials that closely resemble the native ECM. In the fast forward moving research of organoids and organs-on-chip, the inner ear has hardly received attention. This review aims to provide an overview, by describing the general context in which cells, matrix and morphogens cooperate in order to build a tissue, to facilitate research in 3D inner ear technology. Anat Rec, 2019.
- inner ear
- stem cell