Thermoresponsive worms for expansion and release of human embryonic stem cells

Xiaoli Chen, Andrew B.J. Prowse, Zhongfan Jia, Helena Tellier, Trent P. Munro, Peter P. Gray, Michael J. Monteiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The development of robust suspension cultures of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) without the use of cell membrane disrupting enzymes or inhibitors is critical for future clinical applications in regenerative medicine. We have achieved this by using long, flexible, and thermoresponsive polymer worms decorated with a recombinant vitronectin subdomain that bridge hESCs, aiding in hESC's natural ability to form embryoid bodies (EBs) and satisfying their inherent requirement for cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix contact. When the EBs reached an optimal upper size where cytokine and nutrient penetration becomes limiting, these long and flexible polymer worms facilitated EB breakdown via a temperature shift from 37 to 25 C. The thermoresponsive nature of the worms enabled a cyclical dissociation and propagation of the cells. Repeating the process for three cycles (over eighteen days) provided a >30-fold expansion in cell number while maintaining pluripotency, thereby providing a simple, nondestructive process for the 3D expansion of hESC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-855
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Thermoresponsive
  • worms
  • expansions
  • human embryonic
  • stem cells


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