Development of biomaterials for cellular differentiation using a metabolomics approach

Alakpa, E. V. and Burgess, K. and Jayawarna, V. and Ulijn, R. and Dalby, M. (2012) Development of biomaterials for cellular differentiation using a metabolomics approach. Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, 6 (specia). p. 238. ISSN 1932-6254 (

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Understanding how to mimic the physical characteristics of the extracellular matrix in vitro is an invaluable tool with regards to being able to target stem cell differentiation along selective cell lineages. One such physical characteristic is the innate elasticity of the cell substrate. Studies have shown that the rigidity of a substrate has considerable influence over cellular behaviourisms such as migration and differentiation. Here we make use of liquid chromatography coupled to high mass accuracy mass spectrometry (LC-MS) as an established method for monitoring small changes in cell stasis. As such, this can be exploited to envisage the cellular metabolome (the entire array of metabolites that exist within a cell at any point in time). The interpretation of external cues by stem cells causes the activation or deactivation of several proteins, consequently causing shifts in the metabolome. This effect renders the metabolic profile of a cell to be highly indicative of its phenotype at that point in time. This is potentially of significance in stem cell research as the cells are metabolically quiescent in their self-renewing state in their natural niches and the metabolome is thought to become up regulated during differentiation. Investigating MSC metabolites during directed differentiation has enabled scrutiny of the cell behaviour as phenotype is altered and has the potential to influence the manner in which biomaterials are designed for cell culture in vitro.