Chapter

Biomaterials as Stem Cell Niche

Volume 2 of the series Studies in Mechanobiology, Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials pp 45-59

Date:

Integration of Biomaterials into 3D Stem Cell Microenvironments

  • Andres Bratt-LealAffiliated withWallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • , Richard CarpenedoAffiliated withWallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • , Todd McDevittAffiliated withWallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology Email author 

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Abstract

Stem cells receive physical and chemical cues capable of influencing their phenotype from inter-related elements of the microenvironment, such as cell–cell contacts, soluble molecule signals and physical interactions with the ECM. In contrast to conventional 2D culture systems, barriers to diffusion within 3D cultures limit the effectiveness of media manipulation as a method to direct cell behavior. Efforts to engineer stem cell microenvironments in 3D using biomaterials have generally been attempted by either scaffold seeding, cell encapsulation, or microcarrier/microparticle based approaches. These different methods have been applied not only for the propagation of pluri- and multipotent stem cells, but also to direct the differentiation of such stem cells into more differentiated phenotypes. This chapter discusses the unique benefits, as well as associated challenges of integrating biomaterials into 3D stem cell microenvironments.