Hydrogels with Reversible Mechanics to Probe Dynamic Cell Microenvironments

Adrianne M. Rosales, Sebastián L. Vega, Frank W. DelRio, Jason A. Burdick, Kristi S. Anseth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


The relationship between ECM mechanics and cell behavior is dynamic, as cells remodel and respond to changes in their local environment. Most in vitro substrates are static and supraphysiologically stiff; thus, platforms with dynamic and reversible mechanical changes are needed. Herein, we developed hyaluronic acid-based substrates capable of sequential photodegradation and photoinitiated crosslinking reactions to soften and then stiffen the hydrogels over a physiologically relevant range of moduli. Reversible mechanical signaling to adhered cells was demonstrated with human mesenchymal stem cells. In situ hydrogel softening (from ca. 14 to 3.5 kPa) led to a decrease in the cell area and nuclear localization of YAP/TAZ, and subsequent stiffening (from ca. 3.5 to 28 kPa) increased the cell area and nuclear localization of YAP/TAZ. Each photoreaction was cytocompatible and tunable, rendering this platform amenable to studies of dynamic mechanics on cell behavior across many cell types and contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12132-12136
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number40
StatePublished - Sep 25 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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