Technology

How MAP Hydrogels Allow their Stem Cell Cargo to Thrive

Posted on 14 February 2020

Hydrogels are highly absorbant polymer chain networks, able to contain over 90% water without dissolving. A study published in Acta Biomaterialia has revealed how microporous annealed particle (MAP) hydrogels, which have gained attention for their potential stem cell delivery applications, provide and environment for bone stem cells to proliferate.

Electron micrograph showing grooves caused by stem cells growing within a hydrogel.
New Hydrogels Wither While Stem Cells Flourish for Tissue Repair | Stem Cells Portal. (2020). Retrieved 14 February 2020, from https://stemcellsportal.com/news/new-hydrogels-wither-while-stem-cells-flourish-tissue-repair

MAP hydrogels are biodegradeable, and the polymers from which they are formed can be engineered to present proteins that bind to receptors on the surface of stem cells. Researchers used fluorescent microscopy to study the expansion of bone stem cells within such hydrogels. They found that as the hydrogel degrades, this creates space for stem cells to divide and spread to form intricate cellular networks. The faster the hydrogel degraded, the greater the stem cell population.

Our research now shows that stem cells flourish on degrading MAP hydrogels; they also remodel their local environment to better suit their needs. These results have important implications for developing MAP hydrogel-based delivery systems, particularly for regenerative medicine where we want to deliver cells that will replace damaged tissues with new and healthy ones.”

Daniel Alge, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering
New Hydrogels Wither While Stem Cells Flourish for Tissue Repair | Stem Cells Portal. (2020). Retrieved 14 February 2020, from https://stemcellsportal.com/news/new-hydrogels-wither-while-stem-cells-flourish-tissue-repair

Additionally, the type of binding protein used affected the amount of protein produced by the stem cells as they grew. Overall, these findings are good news for the potential application of MAP hydrogels in stem cell delivery for regenerative medicine, as their use had previously been limited by a lack of understanding of how they affected the stem cells they carried.

Although MAP hydrogel degradability profoundly affects the growth of the stem cells, we found that the interplay between the cell-binding proteins and the degradation is also important. As we, as a field, make strides toward developing new MAP hydrogels for tissue engineering, we must look at the effects of both degradability and cell-binding proteins to best utilize these materials for regenerative medicine.

Daniel Alge, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering
New Hydrogels Wither While Stem Cells Flourish for Tissue Repair | Stem Cells Portal. (2020). Retrieved 14 February 2020, from https://stemcellsportal.com/news/new-hydrogels-wither-while-stem-cells-flourish-tissue-repair

References

Interplay between degradability and integrin signaling on mesenchymal stem cell function within poly(ethylene glycol) based microporous annealed particle hydrogels: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2019.11.009Get

New Hydrogels Wither While Stem Cells Flourish for Tissue Repair: https://stemcellsportal.com/news/new-hydrogels-wither-while-stem-cells-flourish-tissue-repair

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