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Materials 2009, 2(3), 1058-1083; doi:10.3390/ma2031058

Cell Guidance by 3D-Gradients in Hydrogel Matrices: Importance for Biomedical Applications

Cells and BioMaterials, Department of Materials, HCI E415, ETHZ, Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 July 2009 / Revised: 18 August 2009 / Accepted: 24 August 2009 / Published: 25 August 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biocompatibility of Materials)
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Concentration gradients of soluble and matrix-bound guidance cues in the extracellular matrix direct cell growth in native tissues and are of great interest for design of biomedical scaffolds and on implant surfaces. The focus of this review is to demonstrate the importance of gradient guidance for cells as it would be desirable to direct cell growth onto/into biomedical devices. Many studies have been described that illustrate the production and characterization of surface gradients, but three dimensional (3D)-gradients that direct cellular behavior are not well investigated. Hydrogels are considered as synthetic replacements for native extracellular matrices as they share key functions such as 2D- or 3D-solid support, fibrous structure, gas- and nutrition permeability and allow storage and release of biologically active molecules. Therefore this review focuses on current studies that try to implement soluble or covalently-attached gradients of growth factors, cytokines or adhesion sequences into 3D-hydrogel matrices in order to control cell growth, orientation and migration towards a target. Such gradient architectures are especially desirable for wound healing purposes, where defined cell populations need to be recruited from the blood stream and out of the adjacent tissue, in critical bone defects, for vascular implants or neuronal guidance structures where defined cell populations should be guided by appropriate signals to reach their proper positions or target tissues in order to accomplish functional repair.
Keywords: extracellular matrix; integrins; gradients; hydrogels; cell guidance; haptotaxis extracellular matrix; integrins; gradients; hydrogels; cell guidance; haptotaxis
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Lühmann, T.; Hall, H. Cell Guidance by 3D-Gradients in Hydrogel Matrices: Importance for Biomedical Applications. Materials 2009, 2, 1058-1083.

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