A critical shortage of donor livers for treating end-stage liver failure signifies the urgent need for alternative treatment options. Hepatocyte-like cells (HLC) derived from various stem cells represent a promising cell source for hepatocyte transplantation, liver tissue engineering, and development of a bioartificial liver assist device. At present, the protocols of hepatic differentiation of stem cells are optimized based on soluble chemical signals introduced in the culture medium and the HLC produced typically retain an immature phenotype. To promote further hepatic differentiation and maturation, biomaterials can be designed to recapitulate cell–extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions in both 2D and 3D configurations. In this review, we will summarize and compare various 2D and 3D biomaterial systems that have been applied to hepatic differentiation, and highlight their roles in presenting biochemical and physical cues to different stem cell sources.
- Decellularized extracellular matrix
- Hepatic differentiation
- Stem cell