Tissues in the body are heterogeneous in stiffness, yet there has been little investigation regarding how cells work cooperatively in heterogeneous environments. The mechanical properties of he extracellular matrix can affect cell morphology, proliferation, and differentiation. Polyacrylamide hydrogels with regions of varying stiffness were fabricated to better represent in vivo tumor-like conditions, to study cell behavior, and cell-cell interactions. A method to fabricate hydrogels with uniform thickness and controllable heterogeneity in stiffness was developed. Atomic force microscopy was used to characterize stiffness of the fabricated hydrogels. NIH 3T3 cells were plated on the hydrogels and experimental tests were conducted to quantify cell viability and morphology.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Major Qualifying Project
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