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Engineering the cellular microenvironment: Cell-derived matrices for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine

By: , Posted on: February 27, 2020

 The field of tissue engineering has been transformed over the last few decades by researchers using novel methods to manipulate cells and their microenvironment. These works have shed light in the important role that the cellular microenvironment has in essential physiological and pathological events. The extracellular matrix (ECM), a network of polymeric proteins and glycoproteins that surrounds cells within tissues, is one of the most important components of this complex microenvironment. It regulates key cellular functions in the body, such as cell migration, proliferation or differentiation during wound healing. In addition, a tight control of the ECM homeostasis is fundamental for normal development of embryos and for the proper function of organs. However, a perturbation of this homeostasis can lead to the development of life-threatening pathologies, such as cancer.

The importance of the adequate properties of the ECM on the regulation of physiological and pathological conditions, have led researchers to develop innovative and physiologically-relevant models of the ECM to investigate the mechanisms of disease progression or organ functions. Indeed, tremendous progress has been obtained in the field of bioengineered cellular microenvironments during the last years, including the construction of biomimetic matrices with pre-defined architectures mimicking some of the events occurring inside the human body, the development of implantable cell-laden biomaterials with tunable properties for controlled drug delivery, or the fabrication of decellularized tissue patches for regenerative medicine applications.

The 2 volumes entitled Cell-Derived Matrices published within the Serial Methods in Cell Biology focuses in this field of research: engineering the cellular microenvironment. These volumes provide a detailed description and step-by-step methods of the current methodologies, emerging methods, and the most recent developments in the field of cell-derived matrices. The volumes include the contributions of world-recognized leaders in the field of bioengineering, biofabrication, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, who also provide important forward-looking visions and research directions. The 2 volumes describe the latest advancements in the methods and technologies that enable the accurate fabrication, manipulation, quantification, monitoring, and imaging of the ECM. In particular, Part A provides a collection of chapters describing step-by-step methods surrounding the use of three-dimensional cell-derived matrices for tissue engineering applications. Part B compiles a selected list of chapters describing the most recent developments in the decellularization of tissues for regenerative medicine applications. In both Parts A and B, biochemical, biophysical, and cell biological approaches are presented along with sample results.

Overall, we are convinced that the content of these volumes will help the scientific community to shed light on fundamental mechanisms of cell biology. This will provide new avenues for the development of better drugs, for the early diagnosis or prevention of diseases, or for the regeneration of tissues.

About the volumes

Cell-derived Matrices Part A  provides a detailed description and step-by-step methods surrounding the use of three-dimensional cell-derived matrices for tissue engineering applications. Biochemical, biophysical and cell biological approaches are presented, along with sample results. Specific chapters cover Anisotropic cell-derived matrices with controlled 3D architecture, Generation of functional fluorescently-labelled cell-derived matrices by means of genetically-modified fibroblasts, Bi-layered cell-derived matrices, Engineering clinically-relevant cell-derived matrices using primary fibroblasts, Decellularized matrices for bioprinting applications, and much more.

Cell-Derived Matrices Part B provides a detailed description and step-by-step methods surrounding the use of three-dimensional cell-derived matrices for tissue engineering applications. Chapters in this new release include Glaucomatous cell-derived matrices, Cardiac tissue explants decellularization, Decellularization of skin matrices for wound healing applications, Guiding axonal growth by aligned cell-derived matrices for spinal cord injury regeneration, Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell–Derived Matrices for Enhanced Osteoregeneration, Amniotic decellularized matrices, Three-Dimensional (3-D) Tissue Reconstruction without Scaffold, Tubular cell-derived matrices for TERM applications, and more.

These volumes are available on ScienceDirect. Want your own copy? Order via the Elsevier store and enter code STC320 to save up to 30%

 Acknowledgements: D.C. acknowledges the financial support from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) under the program CEEC Individual 2017 (CEECIND/00352/2017). D.C., M.A.L-G., and S.C.K. also acknowledge the support from FCT under the 2MATCH project (02/SAICT/2017 – nº 028070) funded by the Programa Operacional Regional do Norte supported by FEDER. Finally, all the authors acknowledge the financial support from the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 on Forefront Research in 3D Disease Cancer Models as in vitro Screening Technologies (FoReCaST – no. 668983).

Conflict of interest: None.

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