Background:: Thermogel is an aqueous solution that exhibits a sol-to-gel transition as the temperature increases. Stem cells, growth factors, and differentiating factors can be incorporated in situ in the matrix during the sol-to-gel transition, leading to the formation of a three-dimensional (3D) cell-culture scaffold. Methods:: The uses of thermogelling polypeptides, such as collagen, Matrigel™, elastin-like polypeptides, and synthetic polypeptides, as 3D scaffolds of cells, are summarized in this paper. Results:: The timely supply of growth factors to the cells, cell survival, and metabolite removal is to be insured in the cell culture matrix. Various growth factors were incorporated in the matrix during the sol-to-gel transition of the thermogelling polypeptide aqueous solutions, and preferential differentiation of the incorporated stem cells into specific target cells were investigated. In addition, modulus of the matrix was controlled by post-crosslinking reactions of thermogels or employing composite systems. Chemical functional groups as well as biological factors were selected appropriately for targeted differentiation of the incorporated stem cells. Conclusion:: In addition to all the advantages of thermogels including mild conditions for cell-incorporation and controlled supplies of the growth factors, polypeptide thermogels provide neutral pH environments to the cells during the degradation of the gel. Polypeptide thermogels as an injectable scaffold can be a promising system for their eventual in vivo applications in stem cell therapy.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (2017R1A2B2007356, 2017R1A5A1015365, and 2014M3A9B6034223). MP and HJL equally contributed to this paper. The authors declare no competing financial interest.
© 2018, The Korean Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society and Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature.
- 3D cell culture
- Stem cells