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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Sep 23;105(38):14459-64. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807235105. Epub 2008 Sep 12.

Hydrophobic surfaces for enhanced differentiation of embryonic stem cell-derived embryoid bodies.

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Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


With their unique ability to differentiate into all cell types, embryonic stem (ES) cells hold great therapeutic promise. To improve the efficiency of embryoid body (EB)-mediated ES cell differentiation, we studied murine EBs on the basis of their size and found that EBs with an intermediate size (diameter 100-300 microm) are the most proliferative, hold the greatest differentiation potential, and have the lowest rate of cell death. In an attempt to promote the formation of this subpopulation, we surveyed several biocompatible substrates with different surface chemical parameters and identified a strong correlation between hydrophobicity and EB development. Using self-assembled monolayers of various lengths of alkanethiolates on gold substrates, we directly tested this correlation and found that surfaces that exhibit increasing hydrophobicity enrich for the intermediate-size EBs. When this approach was applied to the human ES cell system, similar phenomena were observed. Our data demonstrate that hydrophobic surfaces serve as a platform to deliver uniform EB populations and may significantly improve the efficiency of ES cell differentiation.

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