A 3D Self‐Assembled In Vitro Model to Simulate Direct and Indirect Interactions between Adipocytes and Skeletal Muscle Cells
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The molecular mechanisms of the development and progression of diabetes and obesity involve complex interactions between adipocytes and skeletal muscle cells. Although 2D in-vitro models are the gold standard for the mechanistic study of such behaviors, they do not recreate the complexity and dynamics of the interactions between the cell types involved. Alternatively, animal models are used but are expensive, difficult to visualize or analyze, are not completely representative of human physiology or genetic background, and have associated ethical considerations. 3D co-culture systems can be complementary to these approaches. Here, using a newly developed 3D biofabrication method, adipocytes and myoblasts are positioned precisely either in direct physical contact or in close proximity such that the paracrine effects could be systematically studied. Suitable protocols for growth and differentiation of both cells in the co-culture system is also developed. Cells show more restrained lipid and protein production in 3D systems compared to 2D ones and adipocytes show more lipolysis in indirect contact with myoblasts as response to drug treatment. These findings emphasize importance of physical contact between cells that have been overlooked in co-culture systems using transwell inserts and can be used in studies for the development of anti-obesity drugs.