Changes in nucleus pulposus (NP) cell phenotype and morphology are implicated in the progression of intervertebral disc (IVD) disorders. Understanding how changes in the NP cell microenvironment influence cell behavior and function is important for revealing how pathology-related changes in IVD extracellular matrix may affect NP cell biology. In this study, live-cell imaging techniques were utilized to study changes in cell migration and morphology when cultured upon substrates of different matrix proteins and stiffnesses. Results indicate that soft substrates containing matrix proteins promote cell clustering and cell-cell interactions which mimic in vivo conditions of healthy NP cells.

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