Considering the limited physiological relevance of 2D cell culture experiments, significant effort was devoted to the development of materials that could more accurately recreate the in vivo cellular microenvironment, and support 3D cell cultures in vitro. (1) One such class of materials is conducting polymers, which are promising due to their compliant mechanical properties, compatibility with biological systems, mixed electrical and ionic conductivity, and ability to form porous structures. (2) In this work, we report the fabrication of a single component, macroporous scaffold made from poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) via an ice-templating method. (3) PEDOT:PSS scaffolds offer tunable pore size, morphology and shape through facile changes in preparation conditions, and are capable of supporting 3D cell cultures due to their biocompatibility and tissue-like elasticity. Moreover, these materials are functional: they exhibit excellent electrochemical switching behavior and significantly lower impedance compared to films. Their electrochemical activity enables their use in the active channel of a state of the art diagnostic tool in the field of bioelectronics, i.e., the organic electrochemical transistor (OECT). The inclusion of cells within the porous architecture affects the impedance of the electrically-conducting polymer network and, thus, may be used as a method to quantify cell growth. The adhesion and pro-angiogenic secretions of mouse fibroblasts cultured within the scaffolds can be controlled by switching the electrochemical state of the polymer prior to cell-seeding. In summary, these smart materials hold promise not only as extracellular matrix-mimicking structures for cell culture, but also as high-performance bioelectronic tools for diagnostic and signaling applications.
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