The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 57: 885 - 890 (2013)

Vol 57, Issue 11-12

Matrigel supports neural, melanocytic and chondrogenic differentiation of trunk neural crest cells

Technical Article | Published: 20 February 2014

Ana B. Ramos-Hryb1, Meline C. Da-Costa1, Andréa G. Trentin1,2 and Giordano W. Calloni*,1,2

1Programa de Pós-graduação em Biologia Celular e do Desenvolvimento and 2Departamento de Biologia Celular, Embriologia e Genética, CCB, UFSC, Florianópolis, Brazil


The neural crest (NC) is composed of highly multipotent precursor cells able to differentiate into both neural and mesenchymal phenotypes. Until now, most studies focusing on NC cell differentiation have been performed with traditional two-dimensional (2D) cell culture systems. However, such culture systems do not reflect the complex three-dimensional (3D) microenvironments of in vivo NC cells. To address this limitation, we have developed a method of Matrigel™ coating to create 2D and 3D microenvironments in the same culture well. When we performed cultures of trunk neural crest cells (TNCCs) on three different lots of basement membrane matrix (Matrigel™), we observed that all analyzed Matrigel™ lots were equally efficient in allowing the appearance of glial cells, neurons, melanocytes, smooth muscle cells and chondrocytes. We further observed that chondrocytes were found predominantly in the 3D microenvironment, whereas smooth muscle cells were almost exclusively located in the 2D microenvironment. Glial cells were present in both environments, but with broader quantities on the 2D surface. Melanocytes and neurons were equally distributed in both 2D and 3D microenvironments, but with distinct morphologies. It is worth noting the higher frequency of chondrocytes detected in this study using the 3D Matrigel™ microenvironment compared to previous reports of chondrogenesis obtained from TNCCs on traditional 2D cultures. In conclusion, Matrigel™ represents an attractive scaffold to study NC multipotentiality and differentiation, since it permits the appearance of the major NC phenotypes.


Matrigel, trunk neural crest, cell differentiation, chondrogenesis, 3D microenvironment

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