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In Vivo vs. In Vitro: Definitions, Differences, and More

Have you ever wondered what the terms “in vivo” and “in vitro” mean? They’re commonly used to refer to scientific experiments and certain procedures such as assisted reproductive technology.

The terms “in vitro” and “in vivo” are used quite frequently in scientific articles and research. Even if you don’t work in the healthcare or research field, you’ve probably come across them before. “In vivo” and “in vitro” are basically two different types of methods that can be used to describe experiments used in clinical trials, scientific studies, and certain medical procedures.

In Latin, in vivo means “within the living,” and it refers to experiments that are carried out using a whole, living organism rather than dead or partial samples (in-vitro environments). Two of the main examples of in vivo experiments are clinical trials and animal testing.

In some cases, in vivo experiments can help researchers determine the effects of a procedure or medication on living beings. In microbiology, the term “in vivo” is also used to refer to experiments on live, isolated cells instead of a whole organism.

In Latin, in vitro means “in glass.” In vitro studies use isolated components of an organism that have been separated from their usual surroundings. Looking at only specific components instead of the whole organism can make experiments easier for researchers and allows for more detailed analyses.

In vitro tests have allowed researchers to test out many new different drugs at once.

These experiments are sometimes casually known as “test tube experiments.” They provide a safe way for scientists to perform early tests on new procedures and treatments without putting live subjects at risk. In vitro tests have allowed researchers to test out many new different drugs at once. Only the ones that appear to be safe and effective go on to the clinical trial stage.

In vitro techniques are also used in certain medical procedures, particularly assisted fertility treatments. These treatments have allowed many couples who previously couldn’t have conceived to get pregnant and start their own families. 

In vivo and in vitro are different techniques that can be used for different things, but there are also certain similarities between them. Here are some of the differences and similarities between these two testing techniques:

  • In vivo testing is more expensive than in vitro, and it takes longer to get results.
  • Most biological experiments are carried out using in vitro techniques; however, in vivo testing produces more specific and detailed results because it simulates the biological conditions found in a live subject.
  • In vivo testing has to adhere to more regulations because it uses live subjects.
  • Both types of tests are used to develop new treatments that have advanced science and medicine.

When a new drug is being developed, initial testing is carried out in vitro. Researchers add the drug to a Petri dish that contains cells and closely monitor its effects. For example, researchers may add a new chemotherapy drug to a dish containing cancer cells. However, isolated cells in a Petri dish don’t necessarily react the same way that cells inside a living being do. If in vitro research determines that the drug is potentially effective and safe, it advances to in vivo tests.

Animal testing is another form of in vivo experimentation. If in vitro tests are successful, many new drugs are tested on animals, such as laboratory rats, to see how the drug acts on live subjects. However, many drugs work differently on human beings than they do on laboratory animals, which is why animal testing isn’t enough to ensure that a drug is completely safe.

If in vitro research determines that the drug is potentially effective and safe, it advances to in vivo tests.

After animal testing, new medications undergo further in vivo testing during clinical trials to determine their effects on human beings before they can be approved for general use. In many cases, researchers compare the effects of new drugs against a placebo. It’s important to note that clinical trials are voluntary, and patients can withdraw from them whenever they want. 

In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a procedure in which a woman’s mature eggs are retrieved from her ovaries, and then sperm — coming from her partner or a donor — is used to fertilize the egg. The resulting fertilized eggs or embryos are implanted into the woman’s uterus for a pregnancy to develop.

In vitro fertilization is a procedure in which a woman’s mature eggs are retrieved from her ovaries, and then sperm — coming from her partner or a donor — is used to fertilize the egg.

There are several reasons why people choose IVF. Among others, some women want to become mothers at an older age, and some have fertility issues due to a medical condition.

In vitro testing is also commonly used for antibiotic sensitivity testing, which allows doctors to determine exactly which antibiotic they should use to effectively treat a patient’s infectious disease. This can also decrease the risk of creating multi-resistant bacteria when different antibiotics are used to treat a disease.

Biomedical researchers constantly use both in vivo and in vitro techniques to develop new drugs, diagnose conditions, and create new treatments.

Some biopsies represent a slightly different type of testing, which is called “ex vivo.” Pathologists can run tests on live cultured cells that come from a biopsy sample to rule out different conditions and provide a diagnosis. In ex vivo tests, researchers have removed the live cells from the organism and added them to an artificial environment, trying as much as possible to keep natural conditions the same.

Biomedical researchers constantly use both in vivo and in vitro techniques to develop new drugs, diagnose conditions, and create new treatments. These techniques include clinical trials, biopsies, animal testing, and cell cultures.

Each technique has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, which is why they’re used for different purposes. But since a single type of test can’t give researchers enough information, in vivo and in vitro tests are routinely used in combination. This helps ensure that a new treatment is both safe and effective for patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26778084

https://www.novoprolabs.com/support/articles/what-is-the-difference-between-ex-vivo-in-vivo-and-in-vitro-201802261300.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/in-vitro-fertilization/about/pac-20384716

https://www.sfaf.org/collections/beta/a-guide-to-clinical-trials-understanding-clinical-studies/

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