A Beginner’s Guide to the Characterization of Hydrogel Microarchitecture for Cellular Applications

Francisco Drusso Martinez-Garcia, Tony Fischer, Alexander Hayn, Claudia Tanja Mierke*, Janette Kay Burgess, Martin Conrad Harmsen*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

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The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a three-dimensional, acellular scaffold of living tissues. Incorporating the ECM into cell culture models is a goal of cell biology studies and requires biocompatible materials that can mimic the ECM. Among such materials are hydrogels: polymeric networks that derive most of their mass from water. With the tuning of their properties, these polymer networks can resemble living tissues. The microarchitectural properties of hydrogels, such as porosity, pore size, fiber length, and surface topology can determine cell plasticity. The adequate characterization of these parameters requires reliable and reproducible methods. However, most methods were historically standardized using other biological specimens, such as 2D cell cultures, biopsies, or even animal models. Therefore, their translation comes with technical limitations when applied to hydrogel-based cell culture systems. In our current work, we have reviewed the most common techniques employed in the characterization of hydrogel microarchitectures. Our review provides a concise description of the underlying principles of each method and summarizes the collective data obtained from cell-free and cell-loaded hydrogels. The advantages and limitations of each technique are discussed, and comparisons are made. The information presented in our current work will be of interest to researchers who employ hydrogels as platforms for cell culture, 3D bioprinting, and other fields within hydrogel-based research.
Originele taal-2English
Artikelnummer535
Aantal pagina's20
TijdschriftGels
Volume8
Nummer van het tijdschrift9
DOI's
StatusPublished - 26-aug-2022

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