Spinal cord injuries have spurred research interests in finding ways to repair or replace damaged neurons. We are looking to find novel ways to promote proliferation and differentiation of stem cells in order to replace damaged spinal cord neurons. While previous studies have shown that the mechanical properties of the cellular environment influence proliferation and differentiation, these studies have only been performed on polyacrylamide and agarose gels (1, 2). Collagen gels provide the opportunity to promote neuronal precursor cell (NPCs) proliferation and differentiation in a more natural environment by utilizing the mechanical properties of the gel. In this study, we examine the effects of 2D collagen matrices of varying stiffness on proliferation and differentiation of rat, spinal cord NPCs in order to create a more biocompatible tissue-engineered platform.

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