BACKGROUND: Biological hydrogels provide a conducive three-dimensional extracellular matrix environment for encapsulating and cultivating living cells. Microenvironmental modulus of hydrogels dictates several characteristics of cell functions such as proliferation, adhesion, self-renewal, differentiation, migration, cell morphology and fate. Precise measurement of the mechanical properties of gels is necessary for investigating cellular mechanobiology in a variety of applications in tissue engineering. Elastic properties of gels are strongly influenced by the amount of crosslinking density.
OBJECTIVE: The main purpose of the present study was to determine the elastic modulus of two types of well-known biological hydrogels: Agarose and Gelatin Methacryloyl.
METHODS: Mechanical properties such as Young's modulus, fracture stress and failure strain of the prescribed gels with a wide range of concentrations were determined using tension and compression tests.
RESULTS: The elastic modulus, failure stress and strain were found to be strongly influenced when the amount of concentration in the hydrogels was changed. The elastic modulus for a lower level of concentration, not considered in this study, was also predicted using statistical analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: Closed matching of the mechanical properties of the gels revealed that the bulk tension and compression tests could be confidently used for assessing mechanical properties of delicate biological hydrogels.