What caging force cells feel in 3D hydrogels: a rheological perspective

Ciccone, G., Dobre, O. , Gibson, G. M. , Rey, J. M., Gonzalez-Garcia, C., Vassalli, M. , Salmeron-Sanchez, M. and Tassieri, M. (2020) What caging force cells feel in 3D hydrogels: a rheological perspective. Advanced Healthcare Materials, 9(17), 2000517. (doi: 10.1002/adhm.202000517) (PMID:32696605)

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Abstract

It is established that the mechanical properties of hydrogels control the fate of (stem) cells. However, despite its importance, a one-to-one correspondence between gels' stiffness and cell behaviour is still missing from literature. In this work, the viscoelastic properties of Poly(ethylene-glycol) (PEG)-based hydrogels - broadly used in 3D cell cultures and whose mechanical properties can be tuned to resemble those of different biological tissues - are investigated by means of rheological measurements performed at different length scales. When compared with literature values, the outcomes of this work reveal that conventional bulk rheology measurements may overestimate the stiffness of hydrogels by up to an order of magnitude. It is demonstrated that this apparent stiffening is caused by an induced 'tensional state' of the gel network, due to the application of a compressional normal force during measurements. Moreover, it is shown that the actual stiffness of the hydrogels is instead accurately determined by means of passive-video-particle-tracking (PVPT) microrheology measurements, which are inherently performed at cells length scales and in absence of any externally applied force. These results underpin a methodology for measuring the linear viscoelastic properties of hydrogels that are representative of the mechanical constraints felt by cells in 3D hydrogel cultures.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Salmeron-Sanchez, Professor Manuel and Gibson, Dr Graham and Rey, Mr Jose and Ciccone, Mr Giuseppe and Tassieri, Dr Manlio and Dobre, Dr Oana and Vassalli, Dr Massimo and Gonzalez Garcia, Dr Cristina
Authors: Ciccone, G., Dobre, O., Gibson, G. M., Rey, J. M., Gonzalez-Garcia, C., Vassalli, M., Salmeron-Sanchez, M., and Tassieri, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Biomedical Engineering
College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:Advanced Healthcare Materials
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:2192-2640
ISSN (Online):2192-2659
Published Online:21 July 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Advanced Healthcare Materials 9(17):2000517
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
301441Experiencing the micro-world - a cell's perspectiveManlio TassieriEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/R035067/1ENG - Biomedical Engineering
173192Engineering growth factor microenvironments- a new therapeutic paradigm for regenerative medicineManuel Salmeron-SanchezEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/P001114/1ENG - Biomedical Engineering