Hydrophobic surfaces for enhanced differentiation of embryonic stem cell-derived embryoid bodies

Bahram Valamehr, Steven J. Jonas, Julien Polleux, Rong Qiao, Shuling Guo, Eric H. Gschweng, Bangyan Stiles, Korey Kam, Tzy Jiun M. Luo, Owen N. Witte, Xin Liu, Bruce Dunn, Hong Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


With their unique ability to differentiate into all cell types, embryonic stem (ES) cells hold great therapeutic promise. To improve the efficiency of embryoid body (EB)-mediated ES cell differentiation, we studied murine EBs on the basis of their size and found that EBs with an intermediate size (diameter 100-300 μm) are the most proliferative, hold the greatest differentiation potential, and have the lowest rate of cell death. In an attempt to promote the formation of this subpopulation, we surveyed several biocompatible substrates with different surface chemical parameters and identified a strong correlation between hydrophobicity and EB development. Using self-assembled monolayers of various lengths of alkanethiolates on gold substrates, we directly tested this correlation and found that surfaces that exhibit increasing hydrophobicity enrich for the intermediate-size EBs. When this approach was applied to the human ES cell system, similar phenomena were observed. Our data demonstrate that hydrophobic surfaces serve as a platform to deliver uniform EB populations and may significantly improve the efficiency of ES cell differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14459-14464
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
StatePublished - 23 Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Hydrophobicity
  • Self-assembled monolayers
  • Serum-free differentiation


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