Creating Structured Hydrogel Microenvironments for Regulating Stem Cell Differentiation

Document Type


Publication Date



The development of distinct biomimetic microenvironments for regulating stem cell behavior and bioengineering human tissues and disease models requires a solid understanding of cell-substrate interactions, adhesion, and its role in directing cell behavior, and other physico-chemical cues that drive cell behavior. In the past decade, innovative developments in chemistry, materials science, microfabrication, and associated technologies have given us the ability to manipulate the stem cell microenvironment with greater precision and, further, to monitor effector impacts on stem cells, both spatially and temporally. The influence of biomaterials and the 3D microenvironment's physical and biochemical properties on mesenchymal stem cell proliferation, differentiation, and matrix production are the focus of this review chapter. Mechanisms and materials, principally hydrogel and hydrogel composites for bone and cartilage repair that create "cell-supportive" and "instructive" biomaterials, are emphasized. We begin by providing an overview of stem cells, their unique properties, and their challenges in regenerative medicine. An overview of current fabrication strategies for creating instructive substrates is then reviewed with a focused discussion of selected fabrication methods with an emphasis on bioprinting as a critical tool in creating novel stem cell-based biomaterials. We conclude with a critical assessment of the current state of the field and offer our view on the promises and potential pitfalls of the approaches discussed.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Gels (Basel, Switzerland)

This document is currently not available here.