Engineering cell-material interfaces for long-term expansion of human pluripotent stem cells

Chien Wen Chang, Yongsung Hwang, Dave Brafman, Thomas Hagan, Catherine Phung, Shyni Varghese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Cost-effective and scalable synthetic matrices that support long-term expansion of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have many applications, ranging from drug screening platforms to regenerative medicine. Here, we report the development of a hydrogel-based matrix containing synthetic heparin-mimicking moieties that supports the long-term expansion of hPSCs (≥20 passages) in a chemically defined medium. HPSCs expanded on this synthetic matrix maintained their characteristic morphology, colony forming ability, karyotypic stability, and differentiation potential. We also used the synthetic matrix as a platform to investigate the effects of various physicochemical properties of the extracellular environment on the adhesion, growth, and self-renewal of hPSCs. The observed cellular responses can be explained in terms of matrix interface-mediated binding of extracellular matrix proteins, growth factors, and other cell-secreted factors, which create an instructive microenvironment to support self-renewal of hPSCs. These synthetic matrices, which comprise of " off-the-shelf" components and are easy to synthesize, provide an ideal tool to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that control stem cell fate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)912-921
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Human pluripotent stem cells
  • Physicochemical cues
  • Self-renewal
  • Synthetic heparin mimics
  • Synthetic matrices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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