Controllable Micro-Variation of Stiffness in 3-D Life Dextran-CD Hydrogel FG Enables Regulation of hMSCs Behavior In Vitro


The Cellendes 3-D Life Dextran-CD Hydrogel FG Kit has been cited in Biofabrication in an interesting study by Zheng Wang et al. 2021, "Spatial micro-variation of 3D hydrogel stiffness regulates the biomechanical properties of hMSCs."


Although human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) show great promise for use in cell-based therapeutics, there are numerous challenges to overcome concerning control of the hMSCs biomechanical phenotype after in vitro expansion.

Using the 3-D Life Dextran-CD Hydrogel FG Kit, the researchers in this study were able to fabricate and characterize hydrogels with controlled variations in local stiffness at microscale dimensions to examine mechanotransductional effects on hMSCs.

Figure 1. Fabrication and characterization of hydrogels with variation in the local stiffness.

Figure 1. Fabrication and characterization of hydrogels with variation in the local stiffness. (A) The number of available maleimides on the dextran polymer chains was controlled via the addition of monothioglycerol molecules. Two aliquots of dextran with different amounts of reactive maleimide groups were mixed and cross-linked through thiol-Michael addition. In the formed 3D hydrogels, some local dextran macromolecules covalently bond with the relatively dense cross-linkers, named 'CLC' here. (B) Young's modulus was measured via AFM. The inset showed the image of loading the AFM tip onto the hydrogel. The contacting force between hydrogel and AFM tip varied as the tip head moved. The modulus was calculated from the force curve based on the Hertz model. (C) The distribution of the modulus was probed with a spatial interval of 1 μm. The modulus value was divided by the median for normalization. The grayscale represents the normalized value of the hydrogel stiffness. (D) The variation degree of the local modulus was quantified as the relative deviation from the median, as represented by the color bar. The distribution of variation degree was analyzed and compared among the hydrogels with different CLC degrees.

In the experiments following the fabrication of the stiffness-variation (SV) hydrogels, the study found that:

  • hMSCs self-organize into spheroids in 3D SV-hydrogels.
  • Stiffness-based microenvironments influence the adhesion of hMSCs.
  • The microscopic SV modulates the biomechanical properties of hMSCs.

In summary, the study suggests that 3-D Life SV-hydrogels enable a 3D microenvironment that can be rationally designed to optimize the in vitro manufacture of biomechanically functionalized stem cells.


This content has been adapted from the paper cited below. You can find the entire paper via the link:

Wang, Zheng et al. “Spatial micro-variation of 3D hydrogel stiffness regulates the biomechanical properties of hMSCs.” Biofabrication vol. 13,3 10.1088/1758-5090/ac0982. 2 Jul. 2021, doi:10.1088/1758-5090/ac0982

Product Spotlight

The 3-D Life system represents the most flexible system for biomimetic hydrogel design, from pre-configured gels to single components for individual gel compositions. The study above referenced the following 3-D Life products:

3-D Life Dextran-CD Hydrogel FG Kit

  • The 3-D Life RGD Peptide contains a RGD motif and a thiol group on the N-terminus. The thiol group is used to immobilize the peptide on thiol-reactive polymers in 3-D Life Hydrogels. The immobilized peptide promotes adhesion of cells carrying the appropriate integrin receptor.
3-D Life RGD Peptide
  • 3-D Life Thioglycerol can be covalently coupled with its thiol group to SH-reactive groups of Dextran or PVA polymers to modify 3-D Life Hydrogels.
3-D Life Thioglycerol
  • 3-D Life Dextranase allows for dissolution of dextran-based hydrogels to recover live or fixed cells without proteolytic degradation.
3-D Life Dextranase

Ilex Life Sciences LLC is an official distributor of Cellendes GmbH 3-D Life hydrogel products. To learn more about 3-D Life hydrogels, please visit 3-D Life Biomimetic Hydrogels.