Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 394–408 | Cite as

Microscale Bioadhesive Hydrogel Arrays for Cell Engineering Applications

  • Ravi Ghanshyam Patel
  • Alberto Purwada
  • Leandro Cerchietti
  • Giorgio Inghirami
  • Ari Melnick
  • Akhilesh K. Gaharwar
  • Ankur SinghEmail author


Bioengineered hydrogels have been explored in cell and tissue engineering applications to support cell growth and modulate its behavior. A rationally designed scaffold should allow for encapsulated cells to survive, adhere, proliferate, remodel the niche, and can be used for controlled delivery of biomolecules. Here we report a microarray of composite bioadhesive microgels with modular dimensions, tunable mechanical properties and bulk modified adhesive biomolecule composition. Composite bioadhesive microgels of maleimide functionalized polyethylene glycol (PEG-MAL) with interpenetrating network (IPN) of gelatin ionically cross-linked with silicate nanoparticles were engineered by integrating microfabrication with Michael-type addition chemistry and ionic gelation. By encapsulating clinically relevant anchorage-dependent cervical cancer cells and suspension leukemia cells as cell culture models in these composite microgels, we demonstrate enhanced cell spreading, survival, and metabolic activity compared to control gels. The composite bioadhesive hydrogels represent a platform that could be used to study independent effect of stiffness and adhesive ligand density on cell survival and function. We envision that such microarrays of cell adhesive microenvironments, which do not require harsh chemical and UV crosslinking conditions, will provide a more efficacious cell culture platform that can be used to study cell behavior and survival, function as building blocks to fabricate 3D tissue structures, cell delivery systems, and high throughput drug screening devices.


Cell adhesive Microgels Michael-type addition Composite hydrogels Bioadhesive Cancer Leukemia 



The authors would like to acknowledge financial support by Grants from the National Institutes of Health (1R21CA185236-01) and the Cornell University-Ithaca and Weill Cornell Medical College seed grant. The authors also thank Prof. Marjolein C.H. van der Meulen in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering for providing cells. The authors also thank Dr. Brian Kirby in Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University for access to the cells, microscopy facility and spectrophotometer. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

Conflict of interest

Ravi Ghanshyam Patel, Alberto Purwada, Leandro Cerchietti, Giorgio Inghirami, Ari Melnick, Akhilesh Gaharwar, and Ankur Singh declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical standards

No animal or human studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ravi Ghanshyam Patel
    • 1
  • Alberto Purwada
    • 2
  • Leandro Cerchietti
    • 3
  • Giorgio Inghirami
    • 4
  • Ari Melnick
    • 3
  • Akhilesh K. Gaharwar
    • 5
    • 6
  • Ankur Singh
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical EngineeringCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Weill Cornell Medical CollegeCornell UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Pathology, Weill Cornell Medical CollegeCornell UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biomedical EngineeringTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  6. 6.Department of Materials Science & EngineeringTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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