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Biomaterials. 2018 Feb;154:213-222. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2017.11.004. Epub 2017 Nov 6.

Stress relaxing hyaluronic acid-collagen hydrogels promote cell spreading, fiber remodeling, and focal adhesion formation in 3D cell culture.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, United States; Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, United States.
2
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 452 Escondido Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, United States.
3
Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, United States. Electronic address: yanx@stanford.edu.
4
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, 452 Escondido Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, United States. Electronic address: chaudhuri@stanford.edu.

Abstract

The physical and architectural cues of the extracellular matrix (ECM) play a critical role in regulating important cellular functions such as spreading, migration, proliferation, and differentiation. Natural ECM is a complex viscoelastic scaffold composed of various distinct components that are often organized into a fibrillar microstructure. Hydrogels are frequently used as synthetic ECMs for 3D cell culture, but are typically elastic, due to covalent crosslinking, and non-fibrillar. Recent work has revealed the importance of stress relaxation in viscoelastic hydrogels in regulating biological processes such as spreading and differentiation, but these studies all utilize synthetic ECM hydrogels that are non-fibrillar. Key mechanotransduction events, such as focal adhesion formation, have only been observed in fibrillar networks in 3D culture to date. Here we present an interpenetrating network (IPN) hydrogel system based on HA crosslinked with dynamic covalent bonds and collagen I that captures the viscoelasticity and fibrillarity of ECM in tissues. The IPN hydrogels exhibit two distinct processes in stress relaxation, one from collagen and the other from HA crosslinking dynamics. Stress relaxation in the IPN hydrogels can be tuned by modulating HA crosslinker affinity, molecular weight of the HA, or HA concentration. Faster relaxation in the IPN hydrogels promotes cell spreading, fiber remodeling, and focal adhesion (FA) formation - behaviors often inhibited in other hydrogel-based materials in 3D culture. This study presents a new, broadly adaptable materials platform for mimicking key ECM features of viscoelasticity and fibrillarity in hydrogels for 3D cell culture and sheds light on how these mechanical and structural cues regulate cell behavior.

KEYWORDS:

3D culture; Focal adhesions; Hydrogels; Viscoelasticity

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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