Issue 29, 2013

Tunable and dynamic soft materials for three-dimensional cell culture


The human body is complex and hierarchically structured, composed of cells residing within the extracellular matrix (ECM) of tissues that are assembled into organs, all working together to complete a given function. One goal of current biomaterials research is to capture some of this complexity outside of the body for understanding the underlying biology of development, repair, and disease and to devise new strategies for regenerative medicine or disease treatment. Polymeric materials have arisen as powerful tools to mimic the native ECM, giving experimenters a way to capture key aspects of the native cellular environment outside of the body. In particular, dynamic materials allow changes in the properties of these ECM mimics during an experiment, affording an additional degree of control for the experimenter. In this tutorial review, the basic cellular processes of cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation will be overviewed to motivate design considerations for polymeric ECM mimics, and examples will be given of how classes of dynamic materials are being used to study each cellular process.

Graphical abstract: Tunable and dynamic soft materials for three-dimensional cell culture

Article information

Article type
Tutorial Review
21 Jan 2013
01 Mar 2013
First published
13 Mar 2013
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Soft Matter, 2013,9, 6737-6746

Tunable and dynamic soft materials for three-dimensional cell culture

M. S. Rehmann and A. M. Kloxin, Soft Matter, 2013, 9, 6737 DOI: 10.1039/C3SM50217A

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