Programmed cell adhesion and growth on cell-imprinted polyacrylamide hydrogels†
Gaining control over cell adhesion and growth is a critical step in microscale tissue engineering, as well as biosensor fabrication, applied cell biology, and high-throughput cell-based screening. Control over cell adhesion and growth is typically achieved by patterning small molecule or macromolecule reagents with affinity for a cell surface receptor onto a non-adhesive surface. These reagents are often susceptible to environmental and/or enzymatic degradation and their preparation and purification increase the overall cost and complexity of surface fabrication. Surface topology can influence cell adhesion and growth; however, engineering a surface with well-defined topology typically requires expensive and/or specialized equipment and/or multi-step processes such as microcontact printing. In this Paper we show that cell-imprinted features on the surface of a polyacrylamide hydrogel act as surface contact cues that promote cell adhesion and growth. In some cases the shape of cell-imprints dramatically affect cell adhesion. Collectively, we demonstrate that cell-imprinting polyacrylamide hydrogels is an inexpensive and straightforward method for programming cell adhesion and growth.