In vitro ('within glass') means within laboratory equipment, such as test tubes and petri dishes, but it may also mean any laboratory model used for research, such as a mechanical simulator.
In vitro versus in vivo
When experiments are performed in medicine they may take place in a laboratory setting (in vitro) or within the body of a subject (in vivo).
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Extracellular matrix production in vitro in cartilage tissue engineering. Chen J-L, Duan L, Zhu W, Xiong J and Wang D. J Transl Med. 2014; 12: 88.