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Matrigen Softwell

      ultrasoft     SofTrac for traction force microscopy  


Europe orders only. Researchers in US and ROW please visit to place an order.



For a cell, elasticity matters. Softwell replicates a broad range of physiological tissue softness, from fat to cardiac muscle, so you can routinely venture beyond the rigidity of tissue culture plastic.

Softwell is available in a variety of softness and a screen pack containing one of each softness.

   Collagen pre-coated hydrogels are ready for cell culture. 

   Easy Coat hydrogels are chemically activated to bind to your matrix protein of choice.

   Non-Activated hydrogels form an ultra-low attachment surface.

Scientists have long been growing cells in natural and synthetic matrix environments to elicit phenotypes that are not expressed on conventionally rigid substrates. Unfortunately, growing cells either on or within soft matrices can be an expensive, labor intensive, and impractical undertaking.

Softwell overcomes these challenges. It enables you to study cell behaviors in soft environments with unprecedented efficiency. Not only that, it provides remarkable control over matrix stiffness, a concept that has led to discoveries in a wide range of areas.

Softwell plates offer uniform flatness over the entire working surface of the plate. They are provided in individual foil packs which keep them in perfect condition for at least 6 months at room temperature.


Cancer Research:

CD98hc (SLC3A2) Loss Protects Against Ras-Driven Tumorigenesis By Modulating Integrin-Mediated Mechanotransduction. Estrach et al show that  that CD98hc contributes to carcinogenesis by amplifying a positive feedback loop which increases both extracellular matrix stiffness and resulting cellular responses. 25267066

Choosing the Matrigen plate that's right for your cells

Hint: If you don't know what stiffness is optimal for your cells, you can ask for single plates to test each of 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 25, and 50 kPa hydrogels. In addition, there is a 96 well HTS option in which every plate contains a column of 8 wells of each elasticity allowing all elasticities to be tested within a single plate.  


Petrisoft™ - coated petridish (35 mm, 100 mm, 150 mm available) Softwell® - Coated multiwell dishes (6, 12, 24 and 96 well available)   Softslip™ - coated multiwell dishes containing a glass coverslip which can be removed (6, 12 and 24 well available) Softview™ - coated 35 mm petridishes with glass centres (10 mm and 20 mm diameter glass area available)


30 Pa, 70 Pa, 100 Pa

           Ultra Soft            


0.2 kPa, 0.5 kPa, 1.0 kPa


(fat, liver, embryonic, neuronal, lung) 

2 kPa, 4 kPa, 8 kPa, 12 kPa


(muscle, cardiac)

          25 kPa, 50 kPa             




Easy Coat™
Hydrogels activated to
bind ECM proteins such as
collagen, fibronectin and


   Hydrogels bound with   
type I collagen from
bovine skin or rat tail.


Use as an ultra-low protein
and cell attachment
surface or couple ligands
using your own methods.


The importance of surface elasticity has been demonstrated in studies utilizing a range of cell types. Example papers are provided below. This list was last updated in March 2014.


1. Culturing of mouse and human cells on soft substrates promote the expression of stem cell markers. 24360205

2. Differential regulation of morphology and stemness of mouse embryonic stem cells by substrate stiffness and topography. 24529627

3. Soft substrates promote homogeneous self-renewal of embryonic stem cells via downregulating cell-matrix tractions. 21179449

4. Effect of substrate stiffness on early mouse embryo development. 22860009

5. Dual inhibition of Src and GSK3 maintains mouse embryonic stem cells, whose differentiation is mechanically regulated by Src signaling. 22553165

6. Soft substrates promote homogeneous self-renewal of embryonic stem cells via downregulating cell-matrix tractions. 21179449

7. Matrix elasticity directs stem cell lineage specification. 16923388

8. Interplay of matrix stiffness and protein tethering in stem cell differentiation.  25108614




1. Relative rigidity of cell-substrate effects on hepatic and hepatocellular carcinoma cell migration. 23565595

2. Hepatic stellate cells require a stiff environment for myofibroblastic differentiation. 21527725

3. Increased stiffness of the rat liver precedes matrix deposition: implications for fibrosis. 17932231

4. Functional modulation of ES-derived hepatocyte lineage cells via substrate compliance alteration. 18266108

5. Engineering hepatocellular morphogenesis and function via ligand-presenting hydrogels with graded mechanical compliance. 15744840


1. Migration of glial cells differentiated from neurosphere-forming neural stem/progenitor cells depends on the stiffness of the chemically cross-linked collagen gel substrate. 24041935

2. Photocured biodegradable polymer substrates of varying stiffness and microgroove dimensions for promoting nerve cell guidance and differentiation. 22857011

3. Effects of substrate stiffness and cell density on primary hippocampal cultures. 20547372

4. The effects of substrate elastic modulus on neural precursor cell behavior. 23429962

5. The influence of substrate stiffness on the behavior and functions of Schwann cells in culture. 22738780



1. Substrate stiffness modulates gene expression and phenotype in neonatal cardiomyocytes in vitro. 22519549

2. The constant beat: cardiomyocytes adapt their forces by equal contraction upon environmental stiffening. 23519595

3. Cardiomyocytes from late embryos and neonates do optimal work and striate best on substrates with tissue-levelelasticity: metrics and mathematics. 22752667



1. Osteocyte differentiation is regulated by extracellular matrix stiffness and intercellular separation. 23994943

2. Effect of substrate stiffness on the osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow stem cells and bone-derived cells. 23447501

3. Response of sheep chondrocytes to changes in substrate stiffness from 2 to 20 Pa: effect of cell passaging. 23323769

4. Substrate stiffness and oxygen as regulators of stem cell differentiation during skeletal tissue regeneration: a mechanobiological model. 22911707

5. Substrate elasticity regulates skeletal muscle stem cell self-renewal in culture. 20647425

6. Cross talk between matrix elasticity and mechanical force regulates myoblast traction dynamics. 24164970

7. Substrate elasticity regulates skeletal muscle stem cell self-renewal in culture. 20647425

8. Myofibroblast contraction activates latent TGF-beta1 from the extracellular matrix. 18086923


1. Determination of local and global elastic moduli of valve interstitial cells cultured on soft substrates. 23746597

2. Computational model predicts cell orientation in response to a range of mechanical stimuli. 23708875

3. Investigating the role of substrate stiffness in the persistence of valvular interstitial cell activation. 22581728

4. Mechanochemical model of cell migration on substrates of varying stiffness. 22304116

5. Influence of substrate stiffness on circulating progenitor cell fate. 22169135

6. Integrin activation and internalization on soft ECM as a mechanism of induction of stem cell differentiation by ECM elasticity. 21593411

7. Cell shape and substrate rigidity both regulate cell stiffness. 21354386

8. Cellular contractility and substrate elasticity: a numerical investigation of the actin cytoskeleton and celladhesion. 23775256

9. Effects of adhesion dynamics and substrate compliance on the shape and motility of crawling cells. 23741334

10. Differential effects of substrate modulus on human vascular endothelial, smooth muscle, and fibroblastic cells. 22374788

11. Evidence of a large-scale mechanosensing mechanism for cellular adaptation to substrate stiffness. 22509005

12. Feedback amplification of fibrosis through matrix stiffening and COX-2 suppression. 20733059

13. Mechanically Activated Integrin Switch Controls α5β1 Function. 9179533

14. Traction dynamics of filopodia on compliant substrates. 19074349

15. Role of YAP/TAZ in mechanotransduction. 21654799


1. Substrate elasticity as biomechanical modulator of tissue homeostatic parameters in corneal keratinocytes. 23664838


1. Effect of substrate stiffness and PDGF on the behavior of vascular smooth muscle cells: implications for atherosclerosis. 20648629

2. Endothelial barrier disruption and recovery is controlled by substrate stiffness. 23296034

3. Influence of membrane cholesterol and substrate elasticity on endothelial cell spreading behavior. 23239612

4. OxLDL and substrate stiffness promote neutrophil transmigration by enhanced endothelial cell contractility and ICAM-1. 22560286

5. Endothelial cell responses to micropillar substrates of varying dimensions and stiffness. 22389314

6. The effect of substrate modulus on the growth and function of matrix-embedded endothelial cells. 23102623

7. The combined influence of substrate elasticity and ligand density on the viability and biophysical properties of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. 22444641

8. Neutrophil adhesion and chemotaxis depend on substrate mechanics. 20473350

9. The combined influence of substrate elasticity and surface-grafted molecules on the ex vivo expansion of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. 23876761

10.Substrate rigidity regulates human T cell activation and proliferation. 22732590

11. B cell activation is regulated by the stiffness properties of the substrate presenting the antigens. 23554309

12.Substrate rigidity regulates human T cell activation and proliferation. 22732590

13. B cell activation is regulated by the stiffness properties of the substrate presenting the antigens. 23554309


1. The effect of matrix stiffness on the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells in response to TGF-β. 21397942

2. Differential regulation of stiffness, topography, and dimension of substrates in rat mesenchymal stem cells. 23863454

3. Physical and chemical microenvironmental cues orthogonally control the degree and duration of fibrosis-associated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions. 23018598

4. Mesenchymal stem cell durotaxis depends on substrate stiffness gradient strength. 23390141