The extracellular matrix (ECM) mechanical properties regulate key cellular processes in tissue development and regeneration. The majority of scientific investigation has focused on ECM elasticity as the primary mechanical regulator of cell and tissue behavior. However, all living tissues are viscoelastic, exhibiting both solid- and liquid-like mechanical behavior. Despite increasing evidence regarding the role of ECM viscoelasticity in directing cellular behavior, this aspect is still largely overlooked in the design of biomaterials for tissue regeneration. Recently, with the emergence of various bottom-up material design strategies, new approaches can deliver unprecedented control over biomaterial properties at multiple length scales, thus enabling the design of viscoelastic biomaterials that mimic various aspect of the native tissue ECM microenvironment. This review describes key considerations for the design of viscoelastic biomaterials for tissue regeneration. We provide an overview of the role of matrix viscoelasticity in directing cell behavior towards regenerative outcomes, highlight recent strategies utilizing viscoelastic hydrogels for regenerative therapies, and outline remaining challenges, potential solutions, and emerging applications for viscoelastic biomaterials in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
The publications shown here are the articles indexed by PubMed, not the complete list of the lab's publications.