alexa Extracellular matrix: A dynamic microenvironment for stem cell niche

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Extracellular matrix: A dynamic microenvironment for stem cell niche

Extracellular matrix (ECM) is a dynamic and complex environment characterized by biophysical, mechanical and biochemical properties specific for each tissue and able to regulate cell behavior. Stem cells have a key role in the maintenance and regeneration of tissues and they are located in a specific microenvironment, defined as niche.ECM represents an essential player in stem cell niche, since it can directly or indirectly modulate the maintenance, proliferation, self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells. Several ECM molecules play regulatory functions for different types of stem cells, and based on its molecular composition the ECM can be deposited and finely tuned for providing the most appropriate niche for stem cells in the various tissues. Engineered biomaterials able to mimic the in vivo characteristics of stem cell niche provide suitable in vitro tools for dissecting the different roles exerted by the ECM and its molecular components on stem cell behavior.

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