Temporal Modulation of Stem Cell Activity Using Magnetoactive Hydrogels

Amr A. Abdeen, Junmin Lee, N. Ashwin Bharadwaj, Randy H. Ewoldt, Kristopher A. Kilian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cell activity is coordinated by dynamic interactions with the extracellular matrix, often through stimuli-mediated spatiotemporal stiffening and softening. Dynamic changes in mechanics occur in vivo through enzymatic or chemical means, processes which are challenging to reconstruct in cell culture materials. Here a magnetoactive hydrogel material formed by embedding magnetic particles in a hydrogel matrix is presented whereby elasticity can be modulated reversibly by attenuation of a magnetic field. Orders of magnitude change in elasticity using low magnetic fields are shown and reversibility of stiffening with simple permanent magnets is demonstrated. The broad applicability of this technique is demonstrated with two therapeutically relevant bioactivities in mesenchymal stem cells: secretion of proangiogenic molecules, and dynamic control of osteogenesis. The ability to reversibly stiffen cell culture materials across the full spectrum of soft tissue mechanics, using simple materials and commercially available permanent magnets, makes this approach viable for a broad range of laboratory environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2536-2544
Number of pages9
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 12 2016


  • biomedical applications
  • hydrogels
  • magnetic materials
  • stimuli responsive materials
  • tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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