This question is part of the following Ask The Expert session:
This is a good question. You know most of the matrices out there do require some sort of enzymatic digestion if your goal it to obtain single cells. Some matrices are such that the matrix can be dissolved to liberate the cells for assays or passaging. One example is Life Technologies AlgiMatrix 3D where a tri-sodium citrate solution is used to solubilize the matrix allowing cell isolation. Another approach is to use something like Versene which is a Ca/Mg free buffer with 0.43 mM EDTA. Versene chelates the Ca in media and buffer, and its use causes the attachment proteins do disassociate somewhat and can help some cell types loose attachment without using an enzyme. Primorigen Biosciences producers of StemAdhere XF allows for the growth of stem cells and iPSCs and non-enzymatic release of cells with a cell release buffer. Finally I found an interesting paper that may be pointing to the future for stem cell culturing. A Nature Communications 2013, Vol 4:1335 publication entitled, “A Thermoresponsive and Chemically Defined Hydrogel for Long-Term Culture of Human Embryonic Stem Cells” by Rong Zhang et al. These gels permit gentle reagent-free passaging using using temperature as a means to dissociate the matrix and allow passaging without enzymes.