Biological and anatomical changes of intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration frequently occur in the nucleus pulposus (NP) [1]. Changes in NP matrix composition coincide with the loss of a distinct notochord derived cell population [2],[3], which may have the potential to generate or maintain a functional NP-like matrix. Immature NP cells reside in an environment rich in laminin and express specific laminin-binding receptors [4],[5]. Additionally, NP cells attach in higher numbers to laminins as compared to cells isolated from other regions of the IVD [6]. Our initial work demonstrated that matrix protein and stiffness modulate NP cell-cell interactions upon surfaces [7], with results that suggest soft, laminin-functionalized hydrogels may be useful for promoting an NP-like cell phenotype.

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