Comprehensive overview of different classes of ECM molecules in the HSC niche.
Overview of current knowledge on role of biophysics of the HSC niche.
Description of approaches to create artificial stem cell niches for several application.
Importance of considering ECM in drug development and testing.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are the life-long source of all types of blood cells. Their function is controlled by their direct microenvironment, the HSC niche in the bone marrow. Although the importance of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the niche by orchestrating niche architecture and cellular function is widely acknowledged, it is still underexplored. In this review, we provide a comprehensive overview of the ECM in HSC niches. For this purpose, we first briefly outline HSC niche biology and then review the role of the different classes of ECM molecules in the niche one by one and how they are perceived by cells. Matrix remodeling and the emerging importance of biophysics in HSC niche function are discussed. Finally, the application of the current knowledge of ECM in the niche in form of artificial HSC niches for HSC expansion or targeted differentiation as well as drug testing is reviewed.