Hydrogels as artificial matrices for human embryonic stem cell self-renewal

Ying J. Li, Eugene H. Chung, Ryan T. Rodriguez, Meri T. Firpo, Kevin E. Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have the potential to differentiate into all cell types in the body and hold great promise for regenerative medicine; however, large-scale expansion of undifferentiated hESCs remains a major challenge. Self-renewal of hESCs requires culturing these cells on either mouse or human fibroblast cells (i.e., a feeder layer of cells), or on artificial extracellular matrices (ECMs) while supplementing the media with soluble growth factors. Here we report a completely synthetic ECM system composed of a semi-interpenetrating polymer network (sIPN), a polymer hydrogel, which was designed to allow the independent manipulation of cell adhesion ligand presentation and matrix stiffness. In the short term, hESCs that were cultured on the sIPN adhered to the surface, remained viable, maintained the morphology, and expressed the markers of undifferentiated hESCs. This was the first demonstration that a completely synthetic ECM can support short-term self-renewal of hESCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Artificial extracellular matrices
  • Human embryonic stem cells
  • Hydrogels
  • Interpenetrating networks
  • Self-renewal

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Hydrogels as artificial matrices for human embryonic stem cell self-renewal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this