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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2012, Article ID 737421, 9 pages
Research Article

Formulation Changes Affect Material Properties and Cell Behavior in HA-Based Hydrogels

1Department of Bioengineering, University of Utah, 36 S. Wasatch Drive, Rm. 3100, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
2SentrX Animal Care, Inc., 615 Arapeen Drive, Suite 110, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA

Received 10 September 2012; Accepted 2 November 2012

Academic Editor: Kaushik Chatterjee

Copyright © 2012 Thomas Lawyer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To develop and optimize new scaffold materials for tissue engineering applications, it is important to understand how changes to the scaffold affect the cells that will interact with that scaffold. In this study, we used a hyaluronic acid- (HA-) based hydrogel as a synthetic extracellular matrix, containing modified HA (CMHA-S), modified gelatin (Gtn-S), and a crosslinker (PEGda). By varying the concentrations of these components, we were able to change the gelation time, enzymatic degradation, and compressive modulus of the hydrogel. These changes also affected fibroblast spreading within the hydrogels and differentially affected the proliferation and metabolic activity of fibroblasts and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). In particular, PEGda concentration had the greatest influence on gelation time, compressive modulus, and cell spreading. MSCs appeared to require a longer period of adjustment to the new microenvironment of the hydrogels than fibroblasts. Fibroblasts were able to proliferate in all formulations over the course of two weeks, but MSCs did not. Metabolic activity changed for each cell type during the two weeks depending on the formulation. These results highlight the importance of determining the effect of matrix composition changes on a particular cell type of interest in order to optimize the formulation for a given application.