Dynamically tunable cell culture platforms for tissue engineering and mechanobiology

Koichiro Uto, Jonathan H. Tsui, Cole A. DeForest, Deok Ho Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Human tissues are sophisticated ensembles of many distinct cell types embedded in the complex, but well-defined, structures of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Dynamic biochemical, physicochemical, and mechano-structural changes in the ECM define and regulate tissue-specific cell behaviors. To recapitulate this complex environment in vitro, dynamic polymer-based biomaterials have emerged as powerful tools to probe and direct active changes in cell function. The rapid evolution of polymerization chemistries, structural modulation, and processing technologies, as well as the incorporation of stimuli-responsiveness, now permit synthetic microenvironments to capture much of the dynamic complexity of native tissue. These platforms are comprised not only of natural polymers chemically and molecularly similar to ECM, but those fully synthetic in origin. Here, we review recent in vitro efforts to mimic the dynamic microenvironment comprising native tissue ECM from the viewpoint of material design. We also discuss how these dynamic polymer-based biomaterials are being used in fundamental cell mechanobiology studies, as well as toward efforts in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-82
Number of pages30
JournalProgress in Polymer Science
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 4D biology
  • Dynamic cell culture
  • Hydrogels
  • Mechanobiology
  • Stimuli-responsive material
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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