Cell-based therapies offer an attractive approach for revascularization and regeneration of tissues. However, and despite the pressing clinical needs for effective revascularization strategies, the successful immobilization of viable vascular cells within 3D matrices has been difficult to achieve. In this paper the in vitro potential of a natural, injectable RGD-alginate hydrogel as an in situ forming matrix to deliver endothelial cells was evaluated. Several techniques were employed to investigate how these microenvironments could influence the behavior of vascular cells, namely their ability to promote the outward migration of viable, proliferative cells, retaining the ability to form a 3D arrangement. Cells within RGD-grafted alginate hydrogel were able to proliferate and maintained 80% of viability for at least 48 h post-immobilization. Additionally, entrapped cells created a 3D organization into cellular networks and, when put in contact with matrigel, cells migrated out of the RGD-matrix. Overall, the obtained results support the idea that the RGD peptides conjugated to alginate provide a 3D environment for endothelial cells adhesion, survival, migration and organization.
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