A self-folding hydrogel in vitro model for ductal carcinoma

Hye Rin Kwag, Janna V. Serbo, Preethi Korangath, Saraswati Sukumar, Lewis H. Romer, David H. Gracias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A significant challenge in oncology is the need to develop in vitro models that accurately mimic the complex microenvironment within and around normal and diseased tissues. Here, we describe a self-folding approach to create curved hydrogel microstructures that more accurately mimic the geometry of ducts and acini within the mammary glands, as compared to existing three-dimensional block-like models or flat dishes. The microstructures are composed of photopatterned bilayers of poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA), a hydrogel widely used in tissue engineering. The PEGDA bilayers of dissimilar molecular weights spontaneously curve when released from the underlying substrate due to differential swelling ratios. The photopatterns can be altered via AutoCAD-designed photomasks so that a variety of ductal and acinar mimetic structures can be mass-produced. In addition, by co-polymerizing methacrylated gelatin (methagel) with PEGDA, microstructures with increased cell adherence are synthesized. Biocompatibility and versatility of our approach is highlighted by culturing either SUM159 cells, which were seeded postfabrication, or MDA-MB-231 cells, which were encapsulated in hydrogels; cell viability is verified over 9 and 15 days, respectively. We believe that self-folding processes and associated tubular, curved, and folded constructs like the ones demonstrated here can facilitate the design of more accurate in vitro models for investigating ductal carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-407
Number of pages10
JournalTissue Engineering - Part C: Methods
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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