Mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix have a profound effect on the behavior of anchorage-dependent cells. However, the mechanisms that define the effects of matrix stiffness on cell behavior remains unclear. Therefore, the development and fabrication of synthetic matrices with well-defined stiffness is invaluable for studying the interactions of cells with their biophysical microenvironment in vitro
. We demonstrate a methoxypolyethylene glycol (mPEG)-modified chitosan hydrogel network where hydrogel stiffness can be easily modulated under physiological conditions by adjusting the degree of mPEG grafting onto chitosan (PEGylation). We show that the storage modulus of the hydrogel increases as PEGylation decreases and the gels exhibit instant self-recovery after deformation. Breast cancer cells cultured on the stiffest hydrogels adopt a more malignant phenotype with increased resistance to doxorubicin as compared with cells cultured on tissue culture polystyrene or Matrigel. This work demonstrates the utility of mPEG-modified chitosan hydrogel, with tunable mechanical properties, as an improved replacement of conventional culture system for in vitro
characterization of breast cancer cell phenotype and evaluation of cancer therapies.
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