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Supplementary Material for: Differentiation Patterns of Embryonic Stem Cells in Two- versus Three-Dimensional Culture

posted on 09.02.2013, 00:00 by Pineda E.T., Nerem R.M., Ahsan T.
Pluripotent stem cells are attractive candidates as a cell source for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering therapies. Current methods of differentiation result in low yields and impure populations of target phenotypes, with attempts for improved efficiency often comparing protocols that vary multiple parameters. This basic science study focused on a single variable to understand the effects of two-dimensional (2D) versus three-dimensional (3D) culture on directed differentiation. We compared mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) differentiated on collagen type I-coated surfaces (SLIDEs), embedded in collagen type I gels (GELs), and in suspension as embryoid bodies (EBs). For a systematic analysis in these studies, key parameters were kept identical to allow for direct comparison across culture configurations. We determined that all three configurations supported differentiation of ESCs and that the kinetics of differentiation differed greatly for cells cultured in 2D versus 3D. SLIDE cultures induced overall differentiation more quickly than 3D configurations, with earlier expression of cytoskeletal and extracellular matrix proteins. For 3D culture as GELs or EBs, cells clustered similarly, formed complex structures and promoted differentiation towards cardiovascular phenotypes. GEL culture, however, also allowed for contraction of the collagen matrix. For differentiation towards fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells which actively remodel their environment, GEL culture may be particularly beneficial. Overall, this study determined the effects of dimensionality on differentiation and helps in the rational design of protocols to generate phenotypes needed for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.