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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2010 Jun 1;93(3):1110-23. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.32601.

Influence of FGF2 and PEG hydrogel matrix properties on hMSC viability and spreading.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, 1550 Engineering Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


In this study, three-dimensional (3-D) poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogel arrays were used to screen for the effects of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2), combined with multiple hydrogel matrix parameters, on human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) viability and spreading. In particular, we examined the effects of FGF2 while co-varying hydrogel matrix degradability, cell adhesion ligand type, and cell adhesion ligand density. FGF2 significantly improved viability of hMSCs in a dose-dependent manner in both nondegrading and degrading PEG hydrogels in the absence of extracellular matrix-derived cell adhesion ligands. The presence of a small molecule that inhibits autophosphorylation of the FGF2 receptor blocked the effects of FGF2 on hMSC viability in PEG hydrogels, both in the presence and absence of the Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser-Pro (RGDSP) ligand. FGF2 effects on hMSC viability were less pronounced when FGF2 was presented in combination with the RGDSP cell adhesion ligand or the IKVAV cell adhesion ligand in nondegrading PEG hydrogels. Importantly, spread hMSC morphologies were observed and quantified in a select subset of hydrogel networks, which were degradable and included both FGF2 and RGDSP. These results indicate that the hydrogel arrays described here can be used to efficiently study the influence of soluble and insoluble hydrogel matrix parameters on stem cell behavior, and to identify synthetic, 3-D environments that promote specific hMSC behaviors.

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