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Hepatic Spheroid Formation on Carbohydrate-Functionalized Supramolecular Hydrogels

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-29, 07:29 authored by Jie Liu, Ying Zhang, Kim van Dongen, Chris Kennedy, Maaike J.G. Schotman, Patricia P. Marín San Román, Cornelis Storm, Patricia Y.W. Dankers, Rint P. Sijbesma
Two synthetic supramolecular hydrogels, formed from bis-urea amphiphiles containing lactobionic acid (LBA) and maltobionic acid (MBA) bioactive ligands, are applied as cell culture matrices in vitro. Their fibrillary and dynamic nature mimics essential features of the extracellular matrix (ECM). The carbohydrate amphiphiles self-assemble into long supramolecular fibers in water, and hydrogels are formed by physical entanglement of fibers through bundling. Gels of both amphiphiles exhibit good self-healing behavior, but remarkably different stiffnesses. They display excellent bioactive properties in hepatic cell cultures. Both carbohydrate ligands used are proposed to bind to asialoglycoprotein receptors (ASGPRs) in hepatic cells, thus inducing spheroid formation when seeding hepatic HepG2 cells on both supramolecular hydrogels. Ligand nature, ligand density, and hydrogel stiffness influence cell migration and spheroid size and number. The results illustrate the potential of self-assembled, carbohydrate-functionalized hydrogels as matrices for liver tissue engineering.

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