Photoactuating Artificial Muscles of Motor Amphiphiles as an Extracellular Matrix Mimetic Scaffold for Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Shaoyu Chen, Liangliang Yang, Franco King Chi Leung, Takashi Kajitani, Marc C.A. Stuart, Takanori Fukushima, Patrick Van Rijn, Ben L. Feringa

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Mimicking the native extracellular matrix (ECM) as a cell culture scaffold has long attracted scientists from the perspective of supramolecular chemistry for potential application in regenerative medicine. However, the development of the next-generation synthetic materials that mimic key aspects of ECM, with hierarchically oriented supramolecular structures, which are simultaneously highly dynamic and responsive to external stimuli, remains a major challenge. Herein, we present supramolecular assemblies formed by motor amphiphiles (MAs), which mimic the structural features of the hydrogel nature of the ECM and additionally show intrinsic dynamic behavior that allow amplifying molecular motions to macroscopic muscle-like actuating functions induced by light. The supramolecular assembly (named artificial muscle) provides an attractive approach for developing responsive ECM mimetic scaffolds for human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hBM-MSCs). Detailed investigations on the photoisomerization by nuclear magnetic resonance and UV-vis absorption spectroscopy, assembled structures by electron microscopy, the photoactuation process, structural order by X-ray diffraction, and cytotoxicity are presented. Artificial muscles of MAs provide fast photoactuation in water based on the hierarchically anisotropic supramolecular structures and show no cytotoxicity. Particularly important, artificial muscles of MAs with adhered hBM-MSCs still can be actuated by external light stimulation, showing their ability to convert light energy into mechanical signals in biocompatible systems. As a proof-of-concept demonstration, these results provide the potential for building photoactuating ECM mimetic scaffolds by artificial muscle-like supramolecular assemblies based on MAs and offer opportunities for signal transduction in future biohybrid systems of cells and MAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3543-3553
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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