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Biomed Eng Online. 2010 Nov 11;9:70. doi: 10.1186/1475-925X-9-70.

Effect of 3D-scaffold formation on differentiation and survival in human neural progenitor cells.

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Albrecht-Kossel-Institute for Neuroregeneration, University of Rostock, Gehlsheimerstrasse 20, 18147 Rostock, Germany.



3D-scaffolds have been shown to direct cell growth and differentiation in many different cell types, with the formation and functionalisation of the 3D-microenviroment being important in determining the fate of the embedded cells. Here we used a hydrogel-based scaffold to investigate the influences of matrix concentration and functionalisation with laminin on the formation of the scaffolds, and the effect of these scaffolds on human neural progenitor cells cultured within them.


In this study we used different concentrations of the hydrogel-based matrix PuraMatrix. In some experiments we functionalised the matrix with laminin I. The impact of concentration and treatment with laminin on the formation of the scaffold was examined with atomic force microscopy. Cells from a human fetal neural progenitor cell line were cultured in the different matrices, as well as in a 2D culture system, and were subsequently analysed with antibody stainings against neuronal markers. In parallel, the survival rate of the cells was determined by a live/dead assay.


Atomic force microscopy measurements demonstrated that the matrices are formed by networks of isolated PuraMatrix fibres and aggregates of fibres. An increase of the hydrogel concentration led to a decrease in the mesh size of the scaffolds and functionalisation with laminin promoted aggregation of the fibres (bundle formation), which further reduces the density of isolated fibres. We showed that laminin-functionalisation is essential for human neural progenitor cells to build up 3D-growth patterns, and that proliferation of the cells is also affected by the concentration of matrix. In addition we found that 3D-cultures enhanced neuronal differentiation and the survival rate of the cells compared to 2D-cultures.


Taken together, we have demonstrated a direct influence of the 3D-scaffold formation on the survival and neuronal differentiation of human neural progenitor cells. These findings emphasize the importance of optimizing 3D-scaffolds protocols prior to in vivo engraftment of stem and progenitor cells in the context of regenerative medicine.

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