Culturing mammalian cells in three-dimensional peptide scaffolds

Nausika Betriu, Lourdes Recha-Sancho, Carlos E. Semino

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


A useful technique for culturing cells in a self-assembling nanofiber three-dimensional (3D) scaffold is described. This culture system recreates an environment that closely mimics the structural features of non-polarized tissue. Furthermore, the particular intrinsic nanofiber structure of the scaffold makes it transparent to visual light, which allows for easy visualization of the sample under microscopy. This advantage was largely used to study cell migration, organization, proliferation, and differentiation and thus any development of their particular cellular function by staining with specific dyes or probes. Furthermore, in this work, we describe the good performance of this system to easily study the redifferentiation of expanded human articular chondrocytes into cartilaginous tissue. Cells were encapsulated into self-assembling peptide scaffolds and cultured under specific conditions to promote chondrogenesis. Three-dimensional cultures showed good viability during the 4 weeks of the experiment. As expected, samples cultured with chondrogenic inducers (compared to non-induced controls) stained strongly positive for toluidine blue (which stains glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) that are highly present in cartilage extracellular matrix) and expressed specific molecular markers, including collagen type I, II and X, according to Western Blot analysis. This protocol is easy to perform and can be used at research laboratories, industries and for educational purposes in laboratory courses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57259
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number136
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2018


  • 3D-culture
  • Articular chondrocytes
  • Bioengineering
  • Differentiation
  • Issue 136
  • Mammal cells
  • Nanobiomaterials
  • Nanomaterials
  • Self-assembling peptide scaffolds


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