Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that the elasticity of a stem cell's environment is a major determinant of what type of tissue the stem cell becomes.
In laboratory tests, Dennis Discher and Adam Engler grew mesenchymal stem cells (derived from adult bone marrow) in polymer hydrogels with either soft, medium or rigid elasticity.
Based on resulting cell shapes as well as messenger RNA and protein markers, stem cells grown in softer environments -- such as brain tissue -- tended to produce nerve-like cells; those grown in environments with medium elasticity -- similar to muscle -- produced muscle-like cells
The stem cells grown in more rigid environments -- like bone -- produced bone-like cells.
The study provides new clues on how chemical and mechanical factors interact to influence stem cell growth, the researchers say.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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