Improved 3D Cell Culture with simple, tunable HSA-based hydrogels, says new manuscript

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New scaffolds for 3D cell culture that are easier and cheaper to manufacture, while providing robust functionality and tunability, are becoming increasingly more attractive.

Turning to natural materials for their assembly is a popular strategy to generate scaffolds that are biocompatible, biodegradable and controllable in ther sourcing.

Dr. Frank Rosenau’s lab at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Ulm University in Germany described one such scaffold, based on human serum albumin (HSA) hydrogels.

HSA is one of the most abundant proteins present in the human body, with critical roles in pH maintenance as well as transport of, among others, fatty acids, fat-soluble hormones and various drugs. a particular advantage of HSA is the fact that various functional groups can be targeted by diverse chemical crosslinkers.

Because it is so abundant, its production is fairly cheap – it is, in fact, considered one of the cheapest human proteins available.

The manuscript is titled “A Novel Cheap and Easy to Handle Protein Hydrogel for 3D Cell Culture Applications: A High Stability Matrix with Tunable Elasticity and Cell Adhesion Properties,” and was published online last month in ChemistrySelect.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 2.00.35 PM
Cryo-scanning electron microscopy of a 10 % (w/v) HSA gel at 45.000 x (scale bar 1 µm) magnification (image from Bodenberger, N. et al. 2016)

 

The authors used the amine-reactive crosslinker tetrakis(hydroxylmethyl)phosphonium chloride (THPC), which imparted mechanical rigidity to the HSA scaffolds. One of the positive attributes of the hydrogels developed by the group is that they rapidly polymerize, are stable, enzymatically degradable and have adjustable mechanical, chemical and thermal properties.

By varying crosslinker concentrations, the authors achieved gelation times that varied from 1.5 to 13 minutes. Cell functionality, viability and toxicity was measured with model cancer cell lines MCF7 and A549.

You can read the manuscript here.

For more on HSA at various grades and scaffold developments, contact us.

 

 

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