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Nat Methods. 2016 Apr 28;13(5):405-14. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3839.

A practical guide to hydrogels for cell culture.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


There is growing appreciation of the role that the extracellular environment plays in regulating cell behavior. Mechanical, structural, and compositional cues, either alone or in concert, can drastically alter cell function. Biomaterials, and particularly hydrogels, have been developed and implemented to present defined subsets of these cues for investigating countless cellular processes as a means of understanding morphogenesis, aging, and disease. Although most scientists concede that standard cell culture materials (tissue culture plastic and glass) do a poor job of recapitulating native cellular milieus, there is currently a knowledge barrier for many researchers in regard to the application of hydrogels for cell culture. Here, we introduce hydrogels to those who may be unfamiliar with procedures to culture and study cells with these systems, with a particular focus on commercially available hydrogels.

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