Shape-memory-actuated change in scaffold fiber alignment directs stem cell morphology

Ling Fang Tseng, Patrick T. Mather, James H. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Tissue engineering scaffolds have traditionally been static physical structures poorly suited to mimicking the complex dynamic behavior of in vivo microenvironments. Here we present a thermoresponsive scaffold that can be programmed to change macroscopic shape and microscopic architecture during cell culture. The scaffold, which was prepared by electrospinning a shape memory polymer (SMP), was used to test the hypothesis that a shape-memory-actuated change in scaffold fiber alignment could be used to control the behavior of attached and viable cells. To test this hypothesis, we stretched an SMP scaffold of randomly oriented fibers and fixed the scaffold in a temporary but stable elongated shape in which fibers were aligned by the strain. Following seeding and culture of human adipose-derived stem cells on the strain-aligned scaffold, the scaffold was triggered to transition back to its initial shape and random fiber orientation via shape memory actuation using a cytocompatible temperature increase. We found that cells preferentially aligned along the fiber direction of the strain-aligned scaffold before shape memory actuation. After shape memory actuation, cells remained attached and viable but lost preferential alignment. These results demonstrate that shape-memory-actuated changes in scaffold fiber alignment can be achieved with attached and viable cells and can control cell morphological behavior. The incorporation of shape memory into cytocompatible scaffolds is anticipated to facilitate the development, delivery and functionality of tissue engineering scaffolds and the in vitro and in vivo study and application of mechanobiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8790-8801
Number of pages12
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Cell culture
  • Scaffold
  • Shape memory
  • Thermally responsive material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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