Stimuli-responsive smart materials are a key to the realization of next-generation medical technologies. Among them, the temperature-responsive polymer poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm) is attracting particular attention because it is easy to use in physiological conditions. PNIPAAm-grafted surfaces can undergo temperature-modulated cell adhesion and detachment without proteolytic enzymes, and can be used as cell-separating materials through selective cell adhesion/detachment. However, cell detachment at reduced temperatures is problematic because it takes several hours. A novel thermoresponsive crosslinked microfiber system that can greatly reduce the cell detachment time is introduced in this study. The crosslinked fibers provide temperature-dependent volume change, and enable cell detachment within 10 min of reducing the temperature, which is one-sixth of the time required in previous studies. The prompt cell detachment is thought to arise from a completely new mechanism derived from fiber swelling. This system will make a significant contribution as a novel cell manipulating system for next-generation medical technology.
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