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Institute of Bioengineering



IoB Seminar Series: Dr Eileen Gentleman, Unravelling how bi-directional cell-biomaterial interactions direct stem cell fate in 3D

Image: Dr Eileen Gentleman
Dr Eileen Gentleman

Date: 8 March 2017   Time: 15:00 - 16:00

Physical characteristics of a stem cell’s 3D environment, including its stiffness and degradability, are known to direct lineage specification. However, stem cells do not passively reside in their in vivo niche, but rather actively modify their local environment to suit their needs. In 3D hydrogels, which aim to replicate the in vivo environment, the role of such dynamic bi-directional interactions remains relatively unexplored. We created modifiable hydrogels and show that encapsulated human marrow stromal cells (hMSC) quickly modify their pericellular space. They accomplish this by either stiffening or softening their local environment to achieve similar pericellular stiffnesses, regardless of bulk hydrogel properties. These cell-mediated modifications to the local environment regulate hMSC fate, with pericellular stiffening driving adipogenesis, and softening osteogenesis. Our observations suggest that hMSC do not respond directly to the physical properties of their 3D surroundings, but rather participate in a bi-directional interplay between the 3D biomaterial and their own secreted pericellular matrix, and this combination of interactions governs their fate.

Location:  PP1 Lecture Theatre, People’s Palace, Mile End
Contact:  Dr Eileen Gentleman