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Selected news – proposed October 16, 2017, by Xiaoli

Hydrogel that mimic the matrix outside the cells – for physiological cell culture studies

(Synthetic hydrogel mimic the matrix outside cells – and can be used to study the physiology of growing cells such as cancer cells; 18 Oct.2017; proposed as selected news by Xiaoli)
Details refer to the link: article:

In multicellular organisms, cells are embedded in a pericellular and/or an extracellular matrix (ECM). Structurally, the extracellular matrix of native tissues is subdivided into two general types: filamentous protein networks, as found in connective tissues, and thin layers with sheet-like organization, which are found in basement membranes. It is now thought that the extracellular matrix represents more than just a structural architecture that provides adhesion sites for cell surface receptors. Extracellular matrix homeostasis is a critical factor in preserving normal tissue function and tissue-specific mechanical and biochemical properties. The interaction between cells and the surrounding extracellular matrix regulates a variety of physiological cellular processes, including motility, migration, invasion, and proliferation. On the other hand, the crosstalk of cells with the local microenvironment promotes the development and progression of various diseases, including cancer.

Progress in advancing a system-level understanding of the complexity of human tissue development and regeneration is hampered by a lack of biological model systems that show key aspects of the processes in a physiological context. Hence, there is a growing demand by cell biologists for organ-specific extracellular mimics. This has led to the development of 3D cell culture assays based on natural and synthetic matrices.
Gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA)-based hydrogels, which combine the biocompatibility of natural matrices with the reproducibility, stability and modularity of synthetic biomaterials has been developed, which can be used to prepare cell culture models for cancer and stem cell research.
The preparation procedure is showed in the following figure. The sterilized Teflon mold is filled with a cell-laden precursor solution and covered with glass slides. UV initiates cross-linking. The hydrogel strip is cut into equal squares (4 mm × 4 mm × 2 mm). They are transferred into culture medium to enable cell growth. Bright-field microscopy indicates the appearance of spheroids after 14 days of culture of ovarian cancer cells. They can be visualized by confocal microscopy: cell nuclei (DAPI, blue) and F-actin (rhodamine 415-conjugated phalloidin, red).
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Figure GelMA-based hydrogel preparation and 3D cell culture (Daniela Loessner, Et a11)


  1. Loessner, Daniela, et al. "Functionalization, preparation and use of cell-laden gelatin methacryloyl–based hydrogels as modular tissue culture platforms." Nature protocols 11.4 (2016): 727-746.

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