Gelatin—Hyaluronic Acid Hydrogels with Tuned Stiffness to Counterbalance Cellular Forces and Promote Cell Differentiation

Sara Poveda-Reyes, Vladimira Moulisova, Esther Sanmartín-Masiá, Luis Quintanilla-Sierra, Manuel Salmerón-Sánchez, Gloria Gallego Ferrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Cells interact mechanically with their environment, exerting mechanical forces that probe the extracellular matrix (ECM). The mechanical properties of the ECM determine cell behavior and control cell differentiation both in 2D and 3D environments. Gelatin (Gel) is a soft hydrogel into which cells can be embedded. This study shows significant 3D Gel shrinking due to the high traction cellular forces exerted by the cells on the matrix, which prevents cell differentiation. To modulate this process, Gel with hyaluronic acid (HA) has been combined in an injectable crosslinked hydrogel with controlled Gel–HA ratio. HA increases matrix stiffness. The addition of small amounts of HA leads to a significant reduction in hydrogel shrinking after cell encapsulation (C2C12 myoblasts). We show that hydrogel stiffness counterbalanced traction forces of cells and this was decisive in promoting cell differentiation and myotube formation of C2C12 encapsulated in the hybrid hydrogels. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1311-1324
Number of pages14
JournalMacromolecular Bioscience
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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