Controlling the rheology of gellan gum hydrogels in cell culture conditions

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Moxon, Samuel R. ; Smith, Alan M. (2016)

Successful culturing of tissues within polysaccharide hydrogels is reliant upon specific mechanical properties. Namely, the stiffness and elasticity of the gel have been shown to have a profound effect on cell behaviour in 3D cell cultures and correctly tuning these mechanical properties is critical to the success of culture. The usual way of tuning mechanical properties of a hydrogel to suit tissue engineering applications is to change the concentration of polymer or its cross-linking agents. In this study sonication applied at various amplitudes was used to control mechanical properties of gellan gum solutions and gels. This method enables the stiffness and elasticity of gellan gum hydrogels cross-linked with DMEM to be controlled without changing either polymer concentration or cross-linker concentration. Controlling the mechanical behaviour of gellan hydrogels impacted upon the activity of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) in encapsulated MC3T3 pre-osteoblasts. This shows the potential of applying a simple technique to generate hydrogels where tissue-specific mechanical properties can be produced that subsequently influence cell behaviour.
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