Human pluripotent stem cell culture on polyvinyl alcohol-co-itaconic acid hydrogels with varying stiffness under xeno-free conditions

Tzu Cheng Sung, Hsing Fen Li, Akon Higuchi, Qing Dong Ling, Jia Sin Yang, Yeh Chia Tseng, Chih Hsien Pan Pan, Abdullah A. Alarfaj, Murugan A. Munusamy, Suresh Kumar, Shih Tien Hsu, Kadarkarai Murugan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The effect of physical cues, such as the stiffness of biomaterials on the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells, has been investigated by several researchers. However, most of these investigators have used polyacrylamide hydrogels for stem cell culture in their studies. Therefore, their results are controversial because those results might originate from the specific characteristics of the polyacrylamide and not from the physical cue (stiffness) of the biomaterials. Here, we describe a protocol for preparing hydrogels, which are not based on polyacrylamide, where various stem, cells including human embryonic stem (ES) cells and human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, can be cultured. Hydrogels with varying stiffness were prepared from bioinert polyvinyl alcohol-co-itaconic acid (P-IA), with stiffness controlled by crosslinking degree by changing crosslinking time. The P-IA hydrogels grafted with and without oligopeptides derived from extracellular matrix were investigated as a future platform for stem cell culture and differentiation. The culture and passage of amniotic fluid stem cells, adipose-derived stem cells, human ES cells, and human iPS cells is described in detail here. The oligopeptide P-IA hydrogels showed superior performances, which were induced by their stiffness properties. This protocol reports the synthesis of the biomaterial, their surface manipulation, along with controlling the stiffness properties and finally, their impact on stem cell fate using xeno-free culture conditions. Based on recent studies, such modified substrates can act as future platforms to support and direct the fate of various stem cells line to different linkages; and further, regenerate and restore the functions of the lost organ or tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57314
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number132
StatePublished - 3 Feb 2018


  • Bioengineering
  • Cell culture
  • Elasticity
  • Embryonic stem cell
  • Hydrogel
  • Induced pluripotent stem cell
  • Issue 132
  • Nanosegment
  • Oligopeptide
  • Surface modification


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