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Nat Mater. 2014 Jun;13(6):547-57. doi: 10.1038/nmat3937.

Materials as stem cell regulators.

Author information

1] Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53705, USA [2] Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53705, USA.
1] The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA [2] The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA.
1] Department of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA [2] Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.

Erratum in

  • Nat Mater. 2014 Jul;13(7):756.


The stem cell/material interface is a complex, dynamic microenvironment in which the cell and the material cooperatively dictate one another's fate: the cell by remodelling its surroundings, and the material through its inherent properties (such as adhesivity, stiffness, nanostructure or degradability). Stem cells in contact with materials are able to sense their properties, integrate cues via signal propagation and ultimately translate parallel signalling information into cell fate decisions. However, discovering the mechanisms by which stem cells respond to inherent material characteristics is challenging because of the highly complex, multicomponent signalling milieu present in the stem cell environment. In this Review, we discuss recent evidence that shows that inherent material properties may be engineered to dictate stem cell fate decisions, and overview a subset of the operative signal transduction mechanisms that have begun to emerge. Further developments in stem cell engineering and mechanotransduction are poised to have substantial implications for stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

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