Master of Science in Biological and Agricultural Engineering (MSBAE)


Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Document Type



Evolving out of a need to address growing concerns regarding current methods of tissue transplantation, the field of tissue engineering seeks to facilitate the regeneration of viable tissue through the use of cellular scaffolds. The first aim of this thesis was to provide a summary of the current literature on advances in biomaterial synthesis and pertaining methods of stem cell delivery in tissue engineering. Improvements in the processing of decellularized tissue and the expansion of synthetic hydrogels as platforms for stem cell encapsulation have led to the development of extracellular matrix (ECM)-based hybrid hydrogels. These stem cell scaffolds are currently being explored as biomaterials for the purpose of tissue regeneration. The second aim of this thesis was to fabricate a hybrid synthetic/adipose-derived ECM hydrogel. Decellularized adipose tissue was incorporated, at varying concentrations, with a thiol-acrylate fraction that was then polymerized to produce hydrogels via a Michael addition reaction. Hydrogels were characterized based on their ability to support the proliferation, maintain the viability and retain the multipotency of human adipose-derived stem cells (hASCs). Cells encapsulated in hydrogels containing high concentrations of ECM demonstrated greater expression of human potency markers compared to cells encapsulated in ECM-free synthetic hydrogels or in Matrigel®, indicating that adECM hydrogels hold promise as a cost-effective platform for mesenchymal stem cell multipotency maintenance for tissue engineering applications. Inspired by the findings that adipose-derived ECM can be converted into a cytocompatible hydrogel after combination with a synthetic fraction, efforts were conducted in order to improve the performance of the hybrid synthetic/adipose-derived ECM hydrogel platform. ECM was thiolated prior to hydrogel synthesis in order to promote more uniform dispersion. Thiolated adipose-derived ECM hydrogels were characterized based on their ability to maintain hASC viability. It was found that hASCs seeded on hydrogels containing higher concentrations of thiolated adECM (tadECM) demonstrated decreased viability compared to tadECM-free hydrogels. As these results may be caused by incomplete thiol-acrylate conversion, increasing the thiol concentration of the tadECM prior to hydrogel synthesis may lead to improved outcomes.



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Committee Chair

Martin, Elizabeth

Available for download on Saturday, February 23, 2019

Included in

Engineering Commons