Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) are a promising cell source with pluripotency and self-renewal properties. Design of simple and robust biomaterials with an innate ability to induce lineage-specificity of hiPSC is desirable to realize their application in regenerative medicine.

In this study, the potential of biomaterials containing calcium phosphate minerals to induce osteogenic differentiation of hiPSC was investigated. hiPSC cultured using mineralized gelatin methacrylate-based matrices underwent osteogenic differentiation ex vivo, in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional cultures, in growth medium devoid of any osteogenic-inducing chemical components or growth factors.

The findings that osteogenic differentiation of hiPSC can be achieved through biomaterial-based cues alone present new avenues for personalized regenerative medicine. Such biomaterials that could not only act as structural scaffolds, but could also provide tissue-specific functions such as directing stem cell differentiation commitment, have great potential in bone tissue engineering.

This article originally appeared in Acta Biomaterialia 10 (2014), pages 4961-70.