Synthetic Mimics of the Extracellular Matrix: How Simple is Complex Enough?
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Cells reside in a complex and dynamic extracellular matrix where they interact with a myriad of biophysical and biochemical cues that direct their function and regulate tissue homeostasis, wound repair, and even pathophysiological events. There is a desire in the biomaterials community to develop synthetic hydrogels to recapitulate facets of the ECM for in vitro culture platforms and tissue engineering applications. Advances in synthetic hydrogel design and chemistries, including user-tunable platforms, have broadened the field’s understanding of the role of matrix cues in directing cellular processes and enabled the design of improved tissue engineering scaffolds. This review focuses on recent advances in the development and fabrication of hydrogels and discusses what aspects of ECM signals can be incorporated to direct cell function in different contexts.
KeywordsHydrogels Extracellular matrix Three-dimensional culture Peptides
The authors would like to especially thank Emily Kyburz for her figure design and illustrations and Sharon Wang for valuable insight and discussion. Funding for this work was provided in part by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Grants from the National Institutes of Health (RO1DE016523) and National Science Foundation (CBET 1236662).
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