Scientists use different methods of performing experiments in cell cultures, tissue, and animals in order to find treatments for human diseases and disorders. In vitro and in vivo are terms that describe the two most commonly experimental approaches used in science.
In vitro is Latin for “within the glass.” In an in vitro experiment, scientists take parts of a living organism (cells or tissue, for example) and study them using Petri dishes, test tubes, or other glassware and lab equipment.
In vivo is Latin for “within the living.” In an in vivo experiment, scientists are conducting their studies in whole living organisms.
The easiest way to remember the difference is that in vivo means inside the living organism and in vitro means outside the living organism.
What are the pros and cons of in vivo experiments?
It is generally better for researchers to be able to observe overall effects on a living subject in its natural environment, but these types of experiments are sometimes challenging to perform. Studies in plants, animals, and humans via clinical trials are examples of in vivo research.
What are the pros and cons of in vitro experiments?
In contrast to in vivo, an in vitro experiment takes place in a highly controlled artificial environment and is much easier to set up. Scientists can study a part of an organism in great detail, but because the organism has been isolated from its natural surroundings, the results may not be able to accurately predict the conditions inside a living organism.