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Directing three-dimensional multicellular morphogenesis by self-organization of vascular mesenchymal cells in hyaluronic acid hydrogels.



Physical scaffolds are useful for supporting cells to form three-dimensional (3D) tissue. However, it is non-trivial to develop a scheme that can robustly guide cells to self-organize into a tissue with the desired 3D spatial structures. To achieve this goal, the rational regulation of cellular self-organization in 3D extracellular matrix (ECM) such as hydrogel is needed.


In this study, we integrated the Turing reaction-diffusion mechanism with the self-organization process of cells and produced multicellular 3D structures with the desired configurations in a rational manner. By optimizing the components of the hydrogel and applying exogenous morphogens, a variety of multicellular 3D architectures composed of multipotent vascular mesenchymal cells (VMCs) were formed inside hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels. These 3D architectures could mimic the features of trabecular bones and multicellular nodules. Based on the Turing reaction-diffusion instability of morphogens and cells, a theoretical model was proposed to predict the variations observed in 3D multicellular structures in response to exogenous factors. It enabled the feasibility to obtain diverse types of 3D multicellular structures by addition of Noggin and/or BMP2.


The morphological consistency between the simulation prediction and experimental results probably revealed a Turing-type mechanism underlying the 3D self-organization of VMCs in HA hydrogels. Our study has provided new ways to create a variety of self-organized 3D multicellular architectures for regenerating biomaterial and tissues in a Turing mechanism-based approach.

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