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Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2017 Oct;23(5):451-461. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEB.2016.0465. Epub 2017 Feb 3.

Macroporous Hydrogel Scaffolds for Three-Dimensional Cell Culture and Tissue Engineering.

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1 Institute for Translational Medicine, College of Medicine, Qingdao University , Qingdao, People's Republic of China .
2 School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University , Singapore, Singapore .


Hydrogels have been promising candidate scaffolds for cell delivery and tissue engineering due to their tissue-like physical properties and capability for homogeneous cell loading. However, the encapsulated cells are generally entrapped and constrained in the submicron- or nanosized gel networks, seriously limiting cell growth and tissue formation. Meanwhile, the spatially confined settlement inhibits attachment and spreading of anchorage-dependent cells, leading to their apoptosis. In recent years, macroporous hydrogels have attracted increasing attention in use as cell delivery vehicles and tissue engineering scaffolds. The introduction of macropores within gel scaffolds not only improves their permeability for better nutrient transport but also creates space/interface for cell adhesion, proliferation, and extracellular matrix deposition. Herein, we will first review the development of macroporous gel scaffolds and outline the impact of macropores on cell behaviors. In the first part, the advantages and challenges of hydrogels as three-dimensional (3D) cell culture scaffolds will be described. In the second part, the fabrication of various macroporous hydrogels will be presented. Third, the enhancement of cell activities within macroporous gel scaffolds will be discussed. Finally, several crucial factors that are envisaged to propel the improvement of macroporous gel scaffolds are proposed for 3D cell culture and tissue engineering.


3D cell culture; hydrogel; macropore

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