Sodium alginate with an MW of 280 kDa (high-MW; LF20/40) was purchased from FMC BioPolymer (Philadelphia, PA) and was prepared as has been described previously (1). Mid- and low-MW alginates were produced by irradiating high-MW alginate with 3 or 8 Mrad from a cobalt source. The average MW of mid- and low-MW alginates was 70 and 35 kDa, respectively. The alginates were dialyzed against deionized water for 2 to 3 days (MW cutoff of 3.5 kDa), filtered with activated charcoal, and then reconstituted at 3 weight % in serum-free DMEM (Life Technologies). High-, mid-, and low-MW alginates were used to form slow-, medium-, and fast-relaxing hydrogels. The initial modulus of hydrogels was modulated by adjusting the concentration of calcium sulfate, as has been described previously (29) and is listed in table S1.

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