In addition to mechanical properties, also the physico-chemical features of the cell culture substrate (e.g. 3D architecture, porosity and biochemical composition) are critical in guiding cell behaviour. Therefore it essential to properly characterise them in order to understand, monitor and predict the performances of soft and highly hydrated materials and constructs used in both in-vitro model and tissue engineering applications. We adopted different experimental procedures to measure and characterise such challenging materials, adapting traditional testing setup in order to overcome common experimental measuring problems, if needed.
Typical physicochemical and architectural analyses in our laboratories include:
- Swelling measurements
- Sorptivity tests (i.e. water absorption via capillarity)
- 3D architectural analyses via micro-CT and confocal imaging techniques (e.g. fibre and pore diameter and distribution in 3D networks)
- Biochemical characterisation (e.g. content and distribution of different constituents, such as proteins, glycosaminoglycans and amines)
Micro-CT analysis of a freeze-dried gelatin 3D porous polymer network
G. Mattei, V. Di Patria, A. Tirella, A. Alaimo, G. Elia, A. Corti, A. Paolicchi and A. Ahluwalia, “Mechanostructure and composition of highly reproducible decellularised liver matrices”, Acta Biomaterialia, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 875-882, 2014