Biosynthetic strategies for the production of recombinant elastin-like protein (ELP) triblock copolymers have resulted in elastomeric protein hydrogels, formed through rapid physical crosslinking upon warming of concentrated solutions. However, the strength of physically crosslinked networks can be limited, and options for non-toxic chemical crosslinking of these networks are not optimal. In this report, we modify two recombinant elastin-like proteins with aldehyde and hydrazide functionalities. When combined, these modified recombinant proteins self-crosslink through hydrazone bonding without requiring initiators or producing by-products. Crosslinked materials are evaluated for water content and swelling upon hydration, and subject to tensile and compressive mechanical tests. Hydrazone crosslinking is a viable method for increasing the mechanical strength of elastin-like protein polymers, in a manner that is likely to lend itself to the biocompatible in situ formation of chemically and physically crosslinked ELP hydrogels.
Ceramic prostheses often fail from fracture and wear. We hypothesize that these failures may be substantially mitigated by an appropriate grading of elastic modulus at the ceramic surface. In this study, we elucidate the effect of elastic modulus profile on the flexural damage resistance of functionally graded materials (FGMs), providing theoretical guidlines for designing FGM with superior load-bearing property. The Young's modulus of the graded structure is assumed to vary in a power-law relation with a scaling exponent n; this is in accordance with experimental observations from our laboratory and elsewhere. Based on the theory for bending of graded beams, we examine the effect of n value and bulk-to-surface modulus ratio (Eb/Es) on stress distribution through the graded layer. Theory predicts that a low exponent (0.15 < n < 0.5), coupled with a relatively small modulus ratio (3 < Eb/Es < 6), is most desirable for reducing the maximum stress and transferring it into the interior, while keeping the surface stress low. Experimentally, we demonstrate that elastically graded materials with various n values and Eb/Es ratios can be fabricated by infiltrating alumina and zirconia with a low-modulus glass. Flexural tests show that graded alumina and zirconia with suitable values of these parameters exhibit superior load-bearing capacity, 20% to 50% higher than their homogeneous counterparts. Improving load-bearing capacity of ceramic materials could have broad impacts on biomedical, civil, structural, and an array of other engineering applications.
biomechanical prostheses; functionally graded ceramics; modulus gradients; stress dissipation; load-bearing capacity
The high corrosion resistance and strength-to-density ratio makes titanium widely used in major industry, but also in a gamut of medical applications. Here we report for the first time on our development of a titanium passivation layer sensor that makes use of surface plasmon resonance (SPR). The deposited titanium metal layer on the sensor was passivated in air, like titanium medical devices. Our ‘Ti-SPR sensor’ enables analysis of biomolecules interactions with the passivated surface of titanium in real time. As a proof of concept, corrosion of titanium passivation layer exposed to acid was monitored in real time. Also, the Ti-SPR sensor can accurately measure the time-dependence of protein adsorption onto titanium passivation layer with a sub-nanogram per square millimeter accuracy. Besides such SPR analyses, an SPR-imaging (SPRI) enables real-time assessment of chemical surface processes that occur simultaneously at ‘multiple independent spots’ on the Ti-SPR sensor, such as acid-corrosion or adhesion of cells. Our Ti-SPR sensor will therefore be very useful to study titanium-corrosion phenomena and biomolecular titanium-surface interactions with application in a broad range of industrial and biomedical fields.
Titanium passivation layer; Surface plasmon resonance; Protein adsorption; Cell adhesion; Biosensor
Surface-induced biomineralization represents an effective way to immobilize DNA molecules onto biomaterial surfaces for introducing DNA into cells in contact with or in an approximate distance to biomaterial surfaces. Our previous studies have investigated how the composition of mineralizing solutions affects the composition and pH responsiveness of nanocomposites and thus gene transfer efficiency in different cell types. In this study, we investigated how the functional groups of a biomaterial surface would affect the induction and crystallographic properties of nanocomposites and thus the gene transfer efficiency. Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) with different terminus were used to control the functional groups of a surface. We demonstrated that the induction of DNA-doped nanocomposites depended on the surface functional groups, which is consistent with previous studies. The crystallographic properties did not vary significantly with the functional groups. DNA-doped nanocomposites induced by different surface functional groups resulted in different cellular uptake of DNA and thus gene transfer efficiency. The differential cellular uptake may be attributed to the interactions between nanocomposites and functional groups. The weaker inducer resulted in higher cellular uptake thus higher gene transfer efficiency. Together with others and our previous studies, our current results suggest that surface-mediated gene transfer by DNA-doped nanocomposites can be modulated through both mineralizing solutions and surface chemistries.
Tissue engineering; Gene therapy; Surface-mediated gene delivery; Nanocomposites
A thiol-ene polymerization platform was used to synthesize peptide functionalized poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels, which were initially characterized and compared to theoretical predictions of Young’s modulus via a theoretical crosslinking density equation presented herein. After thorough characterization, this material system’s utility for answering specific biological hypotheses was demonstrated with the culture and observation of aortic valvular interstitial cells (VICs). Specifically, these materials were used to better understand the role of substrate elasticity and biochemical functionality on VIC α-smooth muscle (αSMA) expression and secretory properties (i.e., de novo ECM). The Young’s moduli of the hydrogels were varied from 28kPa (activating, 90% myofibroblasts) to 4kPa (non-activating, 15% myofibroblast) substrates, and the biochemical functionality was tailored by incorporating three small adhesive peptide sequences, RGDS, VGVAPG, and P15. To promote VIC adhesion, a basal [RGDS] of 0.8mM was used in all formulations, while the [VGVAPG] or [P15] were varied to be lower, equal, or higher than 0.8mM. The substrates with 1.2mM VGVAPG and all gels with P15 led to significantly higher αSMA expression for both stiff and soft substrates, as compared to 0.8mM RGDS alone. Importantly, all gel conditions were significantly lower than TCPS (~4–10 fold difference). The ECM produced significantly decreased as the total integrin binding peptide concentration increased, but was significantly higher than that expressed on TCPS. This easily tailored material system provides a useful culture platform to improve the fundamental understanding of VIC biology through isolating specific biological cues and observing VIC function.
valvular interstitial cells; thiol-ene; hydrogels; integrin-binding peptides; ECM expression
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to study the morphological changes of two Gram-negative pathogens, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli, after exposure to nitric oxide (NO). The time-dependent effects of NO released from a xerogel coating and the concentration-dependent effects rendered by a small-molecule that releases NO in a bolus were examined and compared. Bacteria exhibited irregular and degraded exteriors. With NO-releasing surfaces, an increase in surface debris and disorganized adhesion patterns were observed compared to controls. Analysis of cell surface topography revealed that increasing membrane roughness correlated with higher doses of NO. At a lower total dose, NO delivered via a bolus resulted in greater membrane roughness than NO released from a surface via a sustained flux. At sub-inhibitory levels, treatment with amoxicillin, an antibiotic known to compromise the integrity of the cell wall, led to morphologies resembling those resulting from NO treatment. Our observations indicate that cell envelope deterioration is a visible consequence of NO-exposure for both Gram-negative species studied.
antimicrobial; atomic force microscopy; Gram-negative; morphology; nitric oxide
Obstructed transport of biological molecules can result in improper release of pharmaceuticals or biologics from biomedical devices. Recent studies have shown that nonionic surfactants, such as Pluronic® F68 (F68), positively alter biomaterial properties, such as mesh size and microcapsule diameter. To further understand the effect of F68 (incorporated at concentrations well above the critical micelle concentration (CMC)) in traditional biomaterials, the transport properties of BSA and riboflavin were investigated in F68-alginate composite hydrogels. Results indicate that small molecule transport (represented by riboflavin) was not significantly hindered by F68 in homogeneously crosslinked hydrogels (up to an 11% decrease in loading capacity and 14% increase in effective diffusion coefficient, Deff), while protein transport in homogeneously crosslinked hydrogels (represented by BSA) was significantly affected (up to a 43% decrease in loading capacity and 40% increase in Deff). For inhomogeneously crosslinked hydrogels (CaCl2 or BaCl2 gelation), the Deff increased up to 50% and 83% for small molecule and proteins, respectively. Variation in the alginate gelation method was shown to affect transport through measurable changes in swelling ratio (30% decrease) and observable changes in crosslinking structure as well as up to a 3.6 and 11.8-fold difference in Deff for riboflavin and BSA, respectively. The change in protein transport properties is a product of mesh size restrictions (10–25 nm estimated by mechanical properties) and BSA-F68 interaction (DLS). Taken as a whole, these results show that incorporation of a nonionic surfactant at concentrations above the CMC can affect device functionality by impeding the transport of large biological molecules.
Protein delivery; Hydrogels; Nonionic Surfactants; Alginate; Diffusion
Fluoride-releasing restorative materials are available for remineralization of enamel and root caries. However, dentin remineralization is more difficult than enamel remineralization due to the paucity of apatite seed crystallites along the lesion surface for heterogeneous crystal growth. Extracellular matrix proteins play critical roles in controlling apatite nucleation/growth in collagenous tissues. This study examined the remineralization efficacy of mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA) in phosphate-containing simulated body fluid (SBF) by incorporating polyacrylic acid and sodium tripolyphosphate as biomimetic analogs of matrix proteins for remineralizing caries-like dentin. Artificial caries-like dentin lesions incubated in SBF were remineralized over a 6-week period using MTA or MTA containing biomimetic analogs in the absence or presence of dentin adhesive application. Lesion depths and integrated mineral loss were monitored with micro-computed tomography. Ultrastructure of baseline and remineralized lesions were examined by transmission electron microscopy. Dentin remineralization was best achieved using MTA containing biomimetic analogs regardless of whether an adhesive was applied; dentinal tubules within the remineralized dentin were occluded by apatite. It is concluded that the MTA version employed in the study may be doped with biomimetic analogs for remineralization of unbonded and bonded artificial caries-like lesions in the presence of SBF.
biomimetics; caries; micro-computed tomography; mineral trioxide aggregate; tubular occlusion
Polymer properties can be tailored by copolymerizing subunits with specific physicochemical characteristics. Vascular stent materials require biocompatibility, mechanical strength, and prevention of restenosis. Here we copolymerized poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL), poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), and carboxyl-PCL (cPCL) at varying molar ratios and characterized the resulting material properties. We then performed a short-term evaluation of these polymers for their applicability as potential coronary stent coating materials with two primary human coronary artery cell types: smooth muscle cells (HCASMCs) and endothelial cells (HCAECs). Changes in proliferation and phenotype were dependent upon intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, and 4%PEG-96%PCL-0%cPCL was identified as the most appropriate coating material for this application. After three days on this substrate, HCASMCs maintained a healthy contractile phenotype and HCAECs exhibited a physiologically-relevant proliferation rate and a balanced redox state. Other test substrates promoted a pathological, synthetic phenotype in HCASMCs and/or hyperproliferation in HCAECs. Phenotypic changes of HCASMCs appeared to be modulated by Young’s modulus and surface charge of test substrates, indicating a structure-function relationship that can be exploited for intricate control over vascular cell functions. These data indicate that tailored copolymer properties can direct vascular cell behavior and provide insight for further development of biologically instructive stent coating materials.
polycaprolactone; endothelial cell; smooth muscle cell; superoxide; hydrogen peroxide
Ideal outcomes in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine involve biomaterials that can enhance cell differentiation and production of local factors for natural tissue regeneration without the use of systemic drugs. Biomaterials typically used in tissue engineering applications include polymeric scaffolds that mimic the 3-D structural environment of the native tissue, but these are often functionalized with proteins or small peptides to improve their biological performance. For bone applications, titanium (Ti) implants, or more appropriately the titania (TiO2) passive oxide layer formed on their surface, have been shown to enhance osteoblast differentiation in vitro and to promote osseointegration in vivo. In this study we evaluated the effect on osteoblast differentiation of pure TiO2 nano-fiber meshes with different surface micro-roughness and nano-fiber diameters, prepared by the electrospinning method. MG63 cells were seeded on TiO2 meshes, and cell number, differentiation markers and local factor production were analyzed. The results showed that cells grew throughout the entire surfaces and with similar morphology in all groups. Cell number was sensitive to surface micro-roughness, whereas cell differentiation and local factor production was regulated by both surface roughness and nano-fiber diameter. These results indicate that scaffold structural cues alone can be used to drive cell differentiation and create an osteogenic environment without the use of exogenous factors.
nano structures; electrospinning; scaffold; titanium implant; tissue engineering; bone
There has been little research on the seeding of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs) in three-dimensional scaffolds for muscle tissue engineering. The objectives of this study were: (i) to seed hUCMSCs in a fibrin hydrogel containing fast-degradable microbeads (dMBs) to create macropores to enhance cell viability; and (ii) to investigate the encapsulated cell proliferation and myogenic differentiation for muscle tissue engineering. Mass fractions of 0–80% of dMBs were tested, and 35% of dMBs in fibrin was shown to avoid fibrin shrinkage while creating macropores and promoting cell viability. This construct was referred to as “dMB35”. Fibrin without dMBs was termed “dMB0”. Microbead degradation created macropores in fibrin and improved cell viability. The percentage of live cells in dMB35 reached 91% at 16 days, higher than the 81% in dMB0 (p < 0.05). Live cell density in dMB35 was 1.6-fold that of dMB0 (p < 0.05). The encapsulated hUCMSCs proliferated, increasing the cell density by 2.6 times in dMB35 from 1 to 16 days. MTT activity for dMB35 was substantially higher than that for dMB0 at 16 days (p < 0.05). hUCMSCs in dMB35 had high gene expressions of myotube markers of myosin heavy chain 1 (MYH1) and alpha-actinin 3 (ACTN3). Elongated, multinucleated cells were formed with positive staining of myogenic specific proteins including myogenin, MYH, ACTN and actin alpha 1. Moreover, a significant increase in cell fusion was detected with myogenic induction. In conclusion, hUCMSCs were encapsulated in fibrin with degradable microbeads for the first time, achieving greatly enhanced cell viability and successful myogenic differentiation with formation of multinucleated myotubes. The injectable and macroporous fibrin–dMB–hUCMSC construct may be promising for muscle tissue engineering applications.
Fibrin hydrogel; Fast-degradable microbeads; Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem; cells; Injectable cell delivery; Macroporous hydrogel
Scaffolds of 13–93 bioactive glass (6Na2O, 12K2O, 5MgO, 20CaO, 4P2O5, 53SiO2; wt %) with an oriented pore architecture were formed by unidirectional freezing of camphene-based suspensions, followed by thermal annealing of the frozen constructs to grow the camphene crystals. After sublimation of the camphene, the constructs were sintered (1 h at 700 °C) to produce a dense glass phase with oriented macropores. The objective of this work was to study how constant freezing rates (1–7 °C/min) during the freezing step influenced the pore orientation and mechanical response of the scaffolds. When compared to scaffolds prepared by freezing the suspensions on a substrate kept at a constant temperature of 3 °C (time-dependent freezing rate), higher freezing rates resulted in better pore orientation, a more homogeneous microstructure, and a marked improvement in the mechanical response of the scaffolds in compression. Scaffolds fabricated using a constant freezing rate of 7 °C/min (porosity = 50 ± 4%; average pore diameter = 100 μm), had a compressive strength of 47 ± 5 MPa and an elastic modulus of 11 ± 3 GPa (in the orientation direction). In comparison, scaffolds prepared by freezing on the constant-temperature substrate had strength and modulus values of 35 ± 11 MPa and 8 ± 3 GPa, respectively. These oriented bioactive glass scaffolds prepared by the constant freezing rate route could potentially be used for the repair of defects in load-bearing bones, such as segmental defects in the long bones.
bioactive glass; scaffold; unidirectional freezing; camphene; bone repair
The ideal wound healing scaffold should provide the appropriate physical and mechanical properties to prevent secondary infection, as well as an excellent physiological environment to facilitate cell adhesion, proliferation and/or differentiation. Therefore, we developed a synthetic cell-adhesive polypeptide hydrogel with inherent antibacterial activity. A series of polypeptides, poly(Lys)x(Ala)y (x+y=100) with varied hydrophobicity via metal-free ring-opening polymerization of NCA-Lys(Boc) and NCA-Ala monomers (NCA = N-carboxylic anhydride) mediated by hexamethyldisilazane (HMDS) were synthesized. These polypeptides were cross-linked with 6-arm PEG-amide succinimidyl glutarate (ASG) (Mw = 10K) to form hydrogels with a gelation time of five minutes and a storage modulus (G') of 1400–3000 Pa as characterized by rheometry. The hydrogel formed by cross-linking of poly(Lys)60(Ala)40 (5 wt%) and 6-arm PEG-ASG (16 wt%) (Gel-III) exhibited cell adhesion and cell proliferation activities superior to other polypeptide hydrogels. In addition, Gel-III displays significant antibacterial activity against E. coli JM109 and S. aureus ATCC25923. Thus, we have developed a novel, cell-adhesive hydrogel with inherent antibacterial activity as a potential scaffold for cutaneous wound healing.
Hydrogel; Antibacterial; Cell-adhesive; Wound healing; Polypeptide
Aggrecan is a high molecular weight, bottlebrush-shaped, negative-charged biopolymer that forms supermolecular complexes with hyaluronic acid. In the extracellular matrix of cartilage, aggrecan-hyaluronic acid complexes are interspersed in the collagen matrix and provide the osmotic properties required to resist deswelling under compressive load. In this review we compile aggrecan solution behavior from different experimental techniques, and discuss them in the context of concentration regimes that were identified in osmotic pressure experiments. At low concentration, aggrecan exhibits microgel-like behavior. With increasing concentration, the bottlebrushes self assemble into large complexes. In the physiological concentration range (2 < caggrecan < 8 % w/w), the physical properties of the solution are dominated by repulsive electrostatic interactions between aggrecan complexes. We discuss the consequences of the bottlebrush architecture on the polyelectrolyte characteristics of the aggrecan molecule, and its implications for cartilage properties and function.
cartilage; osmotic pressure; ECM; light scattering; viscoelasticity
Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) microspheres were assembled around HL-1 cardiomyocytes to produce highly porous modular scaffolds. In this study, we took advantage of the immiscibility of PEG and dextran to improve upon our previously described modular scaffold fabrication methods. Phase separating the PEG microspheres in dextran solutions caused them to deswell and crosslink together rapidly, eliminating the need for serum protein-based crosslinking. This also led to a dramatic increase in the stiffness of the scaffolds and greatly improved the handling characteristics. HL-1 cardiomyocytes were present during the microsphere crosslinking in the cytocompatible dextran solution, exhibiting high cell viability following scaffold formation. Over the course of 2 weeks, a 9-fold expansion in cell number was observed. The cardiac functional markers sarcomeric α-actinin and connexin 43 were expressed at 13 and 24 days after scaffold formation. HL-1 cells were spontaneously depolarizing 38 days after scaffold formation, which was visualized by confocal microscopy using a calcium-sensitive dye. Electrical stimulation resulted in synchronization of activation peaks throughout the scaffolds. These findings demonstrate that PEG microsphere scaffolds fabricated in the presence of dextran can support the long-term three-dimensional culture of cells, suggesting applications in cardiovascular tissue engineering.
hydrogel; scaffold; HL-1 cardiomyocyte; phase separation; porosity
Late outgrowth endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) derived from the peripheral blood of patients with significant coronary artery disease were sodded into the lumens of small diameter expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) vascular grafts. Grafts (1 mm inner diameter) were denucleated and sodded either with native EPCs or with EPCs transfected with an adenoviral vector containing the gene for human thrombomodulin (EPC+AdTM). EPC+AdTM was shown to increase the in vitro rate of graft activated protein C (APC) production 4-fold over grafts sodded with untransfected EPCs (p<0.05). Unsodded control and EPC-sodded and EPC+AdTM-sodded grafts were implanted bilaterally into the femoral arteries of athymic rats for 7 or 28 days. Unsodded control grafts, both with and without denucleation treatment, each exhibited 7-day patency rates of 25%. Unsodded grafts showed extensive thrombosis and were not tested for patency over 28 days. In contrast, grafts sodded with untransfected EPCs or EPC+AdTM both had 7-day patency rates of 88-89% and 28-day patency rates of 75-88%. Intimal hyperplasia was observed near both the proximal and distal anastomoses in all sodded graft conditions but did not appear to be the primary occlusive failure event. This in vivo study suggests autologous EPCs derived from the peripheral blood of patients with coronary artery disease may improve the performance of synthetic vascular grafts, although no differences were observed between untransfected EPCs and TM transfected EPCs.
RAD16-II peptide nanofibers are promising for vascular tissue engineering and were shown to enhance angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo, although the mechanism remains unknown. We hypothesized that the pro-angiogenic effect of RAD16-II results from low-affinity integrin-dependent interactions of microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs) with RAD motifs. Mouse MVECs were cultured on RAD16-II with or without integrin and MAPK/ERK pathway inhibitors, and angiogenic responses were quantified. Results were validated in vivo using mouse diabetic wound healing model with impaired neovascularization. RAD16-II stimulated spontaneous capillary morphogenesis, increased β3 integrin phosphorylation and VEGF expression in MVECs. These responses were abrogated in the presence of β3 and MEK inhibitors or on the control peptide without RAD motifs. Wide-spectrum integrin inhibitor echistatin completely abolished RAD16-II-mediated capillary morphogenesis in vitro and neovascularization and VEGF expression in the wound in vivo. Addition of the RGD motif to RAD16-II did not change nanofiber architecture or mechanical properties, but resulted in significant decrease in capillary morphogenesis. Overall, these results suggest that low-affinity non-specific interactions between cells and RAD motifs can trigger angiogenic responses via phosphorylation of β3 integrin and MAPK/ERK pathway, indicating that low-affinity sequences can be used to functionalize bio-compatible materials for the regulation of cell migration and angiogenesis, thus expanding the current pool of available motifs that can be used for such functionalization. Incorporation of RAD or similar motifs into protein engineered or hybrid peptide scaffolds may represent a novel strategy for vascular tissue engineering and will further enhance design opportunities for new scaffolds materials.
Polycaprolactone fumarate (PCLF) is a cross-linkable derivate of polycaprolactone diol that has been shown to be an effective nerve conduit material that supports regeneration across segmental nerve defects and has warranted future clinical trials. Degradation of the previously studied PCLF (PCLFDEG) releases toxic small molecules of diethylene glycol used as the initiator for the synthesis of polycaprolactone diol. In an effort to eliminate this toxic degradation product we present a strategy for the synthesis of PCLF from either propylene glycol (PCLFPPD) or glycerol (PCLFGLY). PCLFPPD is linear and resembles the previously studied PCLFDEG, while PCLFGLY is branched and exhibits dramatically different material properties. The synthesis and characterization of their thermal, rheological, and mechanical properties are reported. The results show that the linear PCLFPPD has material properties similar to the previously studied PCLFDEG. The branched PCLFGLY exhibits dramatically lower crystalline properties resulting in lower rheological and mechanical moduli, and is therefore a more compliant material. In addition, the question of an appropriate FDA approvable sterilization method is addressed. This study shows that autoclave sterilization on PCLF materials is an acceptable sterilization method for cross-linked PCLF and has minimal effect on the PCLF thermal and mechanical properties.
Polycaprolactone fumarate; polyester; sterilization; nerve regeneration
The development of vascular grafts has focused on finding a biomaterial that is non-thrombogenic, minimizes intimal hyperplasia, matches the mechanical properties of native vessels and allows for regeneration of arterial tissue. In this study, the structural and mechanical properties and the vascular cell compatibility of electrospun recombinant human tropoelastin (rTE) were evaluated as a potential vascular graft support matrix. Disuccinimidyl suberate (DSS) was used to cross-link electrospun rTE fibers to produce a polymeric recombinant tropoelastin (prTE) matrix that is stable in aqueous environments. Tubular 1 cm diameter prTE samples were constructed for uniaxial tensile testing and 4 mm small-diameter prTE tubular scaffolds were produced for burst pressure and cell compatibility evaluations from 15 wt% rTE solutions. Uniaxial tensile tests demonstrated an average ultimate tensile strength (UTS) of 0.36±0.05 MPa and elastic moduli of 0.15±0.04 MPa and 0.91±0.16 MPa, which were comparable to extracted native elastin. Burst pressures of 485 ± 25 mmHg were obtained from 4 mm ID scaffolds with 453 ± 74 μm average wall thickness. prTE supported endothelial cell growth with typical endothelial cell cobblestone morphology after 48 hours in culture. Cross-linked electrospun recombinant human tropoelastin has promising properties for utilization as a vascular graft biomaterial with customizable dimensions, a compliant matrix, and vascular cell compatibility.
Tropoelastin; Electrospinning; Mechanical properties; Vascular grafts; Tissue Engineering
Cells are continuously sensing their physical and chemical environment, generating dynamic interactions with the surrounding micro-environment and cells. Specific to neurons, neurite outgrowth is influenced by many factors, including the growth substrata mechanical properties and adhesive signals. In designing biomaterials for neural regeneration, it is important to better understand the influence of substrate material, rigidity, and bioadhesion on neurite outgrowth. To this end, we developed and characterized a tunable 3-D methylcellulose (MC) hydrogel polymeric system tethered to laminin-1 (MC-x-LN) across a range of substrate rigidities (G* range = 50Pa to 565Pa) and laminin densities. Viability and neurite outgrowth of primary cortical neurons plated within 3-D MC hydrogels were used as cell outcome measures. After four days in culture, neuronal viability was significantly augmented with increasing rigidity for MC-x-LN as compared to control non-bioactive MC; however, neurite outgrowth was only observed in MC hydrogels with complex moduli of 565Pa. Varying LN while maintaining a constant MC formulation (G* = 565Pa) revealed a threshold response for neuronal viability, whereas a direct dose-dependent response to LN density was observed for neurite outgrowth. Collectively, these data demonstrate the synergistic play between material compliance and bioactive ligand concentrations within MC hydrogels. Such results can be used to better understand the adhesive and mechanical factors that mediate neuronal response to MC-based tissue engineered materials.
hydrogel; 3-D neuronal culture; laminin; methylcellulose
Autologous stem cells, recognized as the best cells for stem cell therapy, are associated with difficult extraction procedures that often lead to more traumas for the patients and time consuming laboratory work that delays their subsequent application. To combat such challenges, we have recently uncovered that shortly after biomaterial implantation, following the recruitment of inflammatory cells, substantial numbers of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) were recruited to the implantation sites. These multipotent MSCs could be differentiated into various lineages in vitro. Inflammatory signals may be responsible for the gathering of stem cells, since there is a good relationship between biomaterial-mediated inflammatory responses and stem cell accumulation in vivo. In addition, the treatment with anti-inflammatory drug – dexamethasone – substantially reduced the recruitment of both MSC and HSC. The results from this work support that such strategies could be further developed towards localized recruitment and differentiation of progenitor cells. This may permit the future development of autologous stem cell therapies without the need for tedious cell isolation, culture and transplantation.
Autologous stem cells; Hematopoietic stem cells; Mesenchymal stem cells; Foreign body response; Flow cytometry; Animal model; Osteogenic; Adipogenic; Neurogenic
Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels have recently begun to be explored for the treatment of scarred vocal fold lamina propria due, in part, to their tunable mechanical properties, resistance to fibroblast-mediated contraction, and ability to be polymerized in situ. However, pure PEG gels lack intrinsic biochemical signals to guide cell behavior and generally fail to mimic the frequency-dependent viscoelastic response critical to normal superficial lamina propria function. Recent results suggest that incorporation of viscoelastic, bioactive substances, such as glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), into PEG networks may allow these gels to more closely approach the mechanical responses of normal vocal fold lamina propria while also stimulating desired vocal fold fibroblast behaviors. Although a number of vocal fold studies have examined the influence of hyaluronan (HA) on implant mechanics and vocal fold fibroblast responses, the effects of remaining GAG types have been relatively unexplored. This is significant since recent studies suggest that chondroitin sulfate C (CSC) and heparan sulfate (HS) are substantially altered in lamina propria scar. The present study was therefore designed to evaluate the effects of CSC and HS incorporation on PEG gel mechanical response and vocal fold fibroblast behavior relative to HA. As with PEG-HA, the viscoelasticity of PEG-CSC and PEG-HS gels more closely approached that of the normal vocal fold lamina propria than pure PEG hydrogels. In addition, collagen I deposition and fibronectin production were significantly higher in CSC than in HA gels, and levels myofibroblast marker SM-α-actin were greater in CSC and HS gels than in HA gels. Since collagen I, fibronectin, and SM-α-actin are generally elevated in lamina propria scar, these results suggest that CSC and HS may be undesirable for vocal fold implants relative to HA. Investigation of various signaling intermediates indicated that alterations in NFκB-p50, NFκB-p65, or pERK1/2 levels may underlie observed differences among the PEG-GAG gels.
This research focused on developing a modular poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) scaffold, assembled from PEG microgels and collagen I, to provide an environment to decouple the chemical and mechanical cues within a three dimensional scaffold. We first characterized the microgel fabrication process, examining the size, polydispersity, swelling ratio, mesh size, and storage modulus of the polymer particles. The resulting microgels had a low polydispersity, PDI=1.08, and a diameter of ~1.6 μm. The mesh size of the microgels, calculated from the swelling ratio, was 47.53 Å. Modular hydrogels (modugels) were then formed by compacting EDC/NHS activated microgels with PEG-4arm-amine and 0, 1, 10, or 100 μg/mL collagen. Stiffness (G*) of the modugels was not significantly altered with the addition of collagen, allowing for modification of the chemical environment independent from the mechanical properties of the scaffold. PC12 cell aggregation increased in modugels as collagen concentrations increased and cell viability in modugels was improved over bulk PEG hydrogels. Overall, these results indicate that further exploration of modular scaffolds formed from microgels could allow for a better understanding of the relationship between the chemical and mechanical properties and cellular behavior.
poly(ethylene glycol); hydrogel; modular scaffold; tissue engineering; microgel; collagen
Fibrous scaffolds are promising for tissue engineering because of the high surface area and fibrous features mimicking the extracellular matrix in vivo. Calcium phosphate cements (CPCs) can be injected and self-set in the bone defect. A literature search revealed no report on stem cell seeding on CPC containing electrospun submicron fibers. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of electrospun fibers in CPC on mechanical properties and human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell (hUCMSC) proliferation, osteogenic differentiation and mineralization for the first time. Poly(d,l-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) fibers were made via an electrospinning technique to yield an average fiber diameter of 650 nm. The fibers were incorporated into CPC consisting of tetracalcium phosphate, dicalcium phosphate anhydrous and chitosan lactate. Fiber volume fractions were 0%, 2.5%, 5% and 10%. CPC with 10% fibers had a flexural strength that was twice, and work-of-fracture (toughness) an order of magnitude, those of CPC without fibers. hUCMSCs proliferated rapidly and synthesized bone minerals while attaching to the electrospun fiber-CPC scaffolds. Alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin, and collagen I expressions of hUCMSCs were doubled, while mineralization was increased by 40%, when fiber volume fraction in CPC was increased from 0% to 10%. The enhanced cell function was attributed to the high surface area and biomimetic features of the fiber-CPC scaffold. In conclusion, incorporating submicron fibers into CPC greatly improved the strength and toughness of CPC. Creating submicron fibrous features in CPC was a useful method for enhancing the osteogenic differentiation and mineralization of stem cells. The novel electrospun fiber-CPC-hUCMSC construct is promising for stem cell delivery and bone tissue engineering.
Electrospun Fibers; Calcium Phosphate Cement; Human Cord Stem Cells; Osteogenic Differentiation; Strength and Toughness; Bone Tissue Engineering