Flow perfusion culture is used in many areas of tissue engineering and offers several key advantages. However, one challenge to these cultures is the relatively low-throughput nature of perfusion bioreactors. Here, a flow perfusion bioreactor with increased throughput was designed and built for tissue engineering. This design uses an integrated medium reservoir and flow chamber in order to increase the throughput, limit the volume of medium required to operate the system, and simplify the assembly and operation.
In the field of human mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) research, quantitative real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is the method of choice to study changes in gene expression patterns upon differentiation, application of stimuli, or of factors such as inhibitors or siRNAs. To reliably detect small changes, the use of a reference gene (RG) that is stably expressed under all conditions is essential. The large number of different RGs used in the field and the lack of validation of their suitability make the comparison between studies impossible. Therefore, this work aims to establish one single RG for mesodermal differentiation studies that use MSCs. Seven commonly used RGs (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase [GAPDH], ribosomal protein L13a [RPL13a], beta-actin [ACTB], tyrosine 3-monooxygenase/tryptophan 5-monooxygenase activation protein, zeta-polypeptide [YWHAZ], eukaryotic translational elongation factor 1 alpha [EF1α], β2-microglobulin [B2M], and 18S ribosomal RNA [18S]) were investigated concerning their mRNA expression stability during expansion of bone marrow-derived MSCs up to four passages as well as during their adipo-, chondro-, and osteogenenic differentiation on days 9, 16, and 22 after induction. RPL13a was validated for qPCR studies of MSCs (bone marrow- and placenta-derived) and, additionally, for primary human bone cells (HBCs) and the osteosarcoma cell line MG-63. GAPDH and ACTB, the two most frequently used RGs, showed the highest expression variance. The superior performance of RPL13a should make it the RG of choice for all MSC studies addressing mesodermal differentiation.
Adequate cellular in-growth into biomaterials is one of the fundamental requirements of scaffolds used in regenerative medicine. Type I collagen is the most commonly used material for soft tissue engineering, because it is nonimmunogenic and a highly porous network for cellular support can be produced. However, in general, adequate cell in-growth and cell seeding has been suboptimal. In this study we prepared collagen scaffolds of different collagen densities and investigated the cellular distribution. We also prepared a hybrid polymer–collagen scaffold to achieve an optimal cellular distribution as well as sufficient mechanical strength. Collagen scaffolds [ranging from 0.3% to 0.8% (w/v)] with and without a mechanically stable polymer knitting [poly-caprolactone (PCL)] were prepared. The porous structure of collagen scaffolds was characterized using scanning electron microscopy and hematoxylin-eosin staining. The mechanical strength of hybrid scaffolds (collagen with or without PCL) was determined using tensile strength analysis. Cellular in-growth and interconnectivity were evaluated using fluorescent bead distribution and human bladder smooth muscle cells and human urothelium seeding. The lower density collagen scaffolds showed remarkably deeper cellular penetration and by combining it with PCL knitting the tensile strength was enhanced. This study indicated that a hybrid scaffold prepared from 0.4% collagen strengthened with knitting achieved the best cellular distribution.
Therapeutic and industrial applications of pluripotent stem cells and their derivatives require large cell quantities generated in defined conditions. To this end, we have translated single cell-inoculated suspension cultures of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs; including human induced pluripotent stem cells [hiPS] and human embryonic stem cells [hESC]) to stirred tank bioreactors. These systems that are widely used in biopharmaceutical industry allow straightforward scale up and detailed online monitoring of key process parameters. To ensure minimum medium consumption, but in parallel functional integration of all probes mandatory for process monitoring, that is, for pO2 and pH, experiments were performed in 100 mL culture volume in a “mini reactor platform” consisting of four independently controlled vessels. By establishing defined parameters for tightly controlled cell inoculation and aggregate formation up to 2×108 hiPSCs/100 mL were generated in a single process run in 7 days. Expression of pluripotency markers and ability of cells to differentiate into derivates of all three germ layers in vitro was maintained, underlining practical utility of this new process. The presented data provide key steps toward scalable mass expansion of human iPS and ES cells thereby enabling translation of stem cell research to (pre)clinical application in relevant large animal models and valuable in vitro assays for drug development and validation as well.
Understanding the structural development of embryonic bone in a three dimensional framework is fundamental to developing new strategies for the recapitulation of bone tissue in latter life. We present an innovative combined approach of an organotypic embryonic femur culture model, microcomputed tomography (μCT) and immunohistochemistry to examine the development and modulation of the three dimensional structures of the developing embryonic femur. Isolated embryonic chick femurs were organotypic (air/liquid interface) cultured for 10 days in either basal, chondrogenic, or osteogenic supplemented culture conditions. The growth development and modulating effects of basal, chondrogenic, or osteogenic culture media of the embryonic chick femurs was investigated using μCT, immunohistochemistry, and histology. The growth and development of noncultured embryonic chick femur stages E10, E11, E12, E13, E15, and E17 were very closely correlated with increased morphometric indices of bone formation as determined by μCT. After 10 days in the organotpyic culture set up, the early aged femurs (E10 and E11) demonstrated a dramatic response to the chondrogenic or osteogenic culture conditions compared to the basal cultured femurs as determined by a change in μCT morphometric indices and modified expression of chondrogenic and osteogenic markers. Although the later aged femurs (E12 and E13) increased in size and structure after 10 days organotpypic culture, the effects of the osteogenic and chondrogenic organotypic cultures on these femurs were not significantly altered compared to basal conditions. We have demonstrated that the embryonic chick femur organotpyic culture model combined with the μCT and immunohistochemical analysis can provide an integral methodology for investigating the modulation of bone development in an ex vivo culture setting. Hence, these interdisciplinary techniques of μCT and whole organ bone cultures will enable us to delineate some of the temporal, structural developmental paradigms and modulation of bone tissue formation to underpin innovative skeletal regenerative technology for clinical therapeutic strategies in musculoskeletal trauma and diseases.
The functionality of vascular networks within implanted prevascularized tissues is difficult to assess using traditional analysis techniques, such as histology. This is largely due to the inability to visualize hemodynamics in vivo longitudinally. Therefore, we have developed dynamic imaging methods to measure blood flow and hemoglobin oxygen saturation in implanted prevascularized tissues noninvasively and longitudinally. Using laser speckle imaging, multispectral imaging, and intravital microscopy, we demonstrate that fibrin-based tissue implants anastomose with the host (severe combined immunodeficient mice) in as short as 20 h. Anastomosis results in initial perfusion with highly oxygenated blood, and an increase in average hemoglobin oxygenation of 53%. However, shear rates in the preformed vessels were low (20.8±12.8 s−1), and flow did not persist in the vast majority of preformed vessels due to thrombus formation. These findings suggest that designing an appropriate vascular network structure in prevascularized tissues to maintain shear rates above the threshold for thrombosis may be necessary to maintain flow following implantation. We conclude that wide-field and microscopic functional imaging can dynamically assess blood flow and oxygenation in vivo in prevascularized tissues, and can be used to rapidly evaluate and improve prevascularization strategies.
A major limitation in tissue engineering is the lack of nondestructive methods that assess the development of tissue scaffolds undergoing preconditioning in bioreactors. Due to significant optical scattering in most scaffolding materials, current microscope-based imaging methods cannot “see” through thick and optically opaque tissue constructs. To address this deficiency, we developed a fiber-optic-based imaging method that is capable of nondestructive imaging of fluorescently labeled cells through a thick and optically opaque scaffold, contained in a bioreactor. This imaging modality is based on the local excitation of fluorescent cells, the acquisition of fluorescence through the scaffold, and fluorescence mapping based on the position of the excitation light. To evaluate the capability and accuracy of the imaging system, human endothelial cells (ECs), stably expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP), were imaged through a fibrous scaffold. Without sacrificing the scaffolds, we nondestructively visualized the distribution of GFP-labeled cells through a ∼500 μm thick scaffold with cell-level resolution and distinct localization. These results were similar to control images obtained using an optical microscope with direct line-of-sight access. Through a detailed quantitative analysis, we demonstrated that this method achieved a resolution on the order of 20–30 μm, with 10% or less deviation from standard optical microscopy. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the penetration depth of the imaging method exceeded that of confocal laser scanning microscopy by more than a factor of 2. Our imaging method also possesses a working distance (up to 8 cm) much longer than that of a standard confocal microscopy system, which can significantly facilitate bioreactor integration. This method will enable the nondestructive monitoring of ECs seeded on the lumen of a tissue-engineered vascular graft during preconditioning in vitro, as well as for other tissue-engineered constructs in the future.
Tissue engineering, which is the study of generating biological substitutes to restore or replace tissues or organs, has the potential to meet current needs for organ transplantation and medical interventions. Various approaches have been attempted to apply three-dimensional (3D) solid freeform fabrication technologies to tissue engineering for scaffold fabrication. Among these, the stereolithography (SL) technology not only has the highest resolution, but also offers quick fabrication. However, a lack of suitable biomaterials is a barrier to applying the SL technology to tissue engineering. In this study, an indirect SL method that combines the SL technology and a sacrificial molding process was developed to address this challenge. A sacrificial mold with an inverse porous shape was fabricated from an alkali-soluble photopolymer by the SL technology. A sacrificial molding process was then developed for scaffold construction using a variety of biomaterials. The results indicated a wide range of biomaterial selectivity and a high resolution. Achievable minimum pore and strut sizes were as large as 50 and 65 μm, respectively. This technology can also be used to fabricate three-dimensional organ shapes, and combined with traditional fabrication methods to construct a new type of scaffold with a dual-pore size. Cytotoxicity tests, as well as nuclear magnetic resonance and gel permeation chromatography analyses, showed that this technology has great potential for tissue engineering applications.
The development of tools for patterning cocultures of cells is a fundamental interest among cell biologists and tissue engineers. Although a variety of systems exist for micropatterning cells, the methods used to generate cell micropatterns are often cumbersome and difficult to adapt for tissue engineering purposes. This study combines acoustic droplet ejection and aqueous two-phase system exclusion patterning to introduce a method for patterning cocultures of cells in multiplexed arrays. This new method uses focused acoustic radiation pressure to eject discrete droplets of uniform size from the surface of a dextran solution containing cells. The size of droplets is controlled by adjusting ultrasound parameters, such as pulse, duration, and amplitude. The ejected dextran droplets are captured on a cell culture substrate that is manipulated by a computer-controlled 3D positioning system according to predesigned patterns. Polyethylene glycol solution containing an additional cell type is then added to the culture dish to produce a two-phase system capable of depositing different types of cells around the initial pattern of cells. We demonstrate that our method can produce patterns of islands or lines with two or more cell types. Further, we demonstrate that patterns can be multiplexed for studies involving combinations of multiple cell types. This method offers a tool to transfer cell-containing samples in a contact-free, nozzle-less manner, avoiding sample cross-contamination. It can be used to pattern cell cocultures without complicated fabrication of culture substrates. These capabilities were used to examine the response of cancer cells to the presence of a ligand (CXCL12) secreted from surrounding cocultured cells.
The stromal vascular fraction of adipose tissue has gained popularity as a source of autologous progenitor cells for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. The aim of this study was to validate a newly developed, automated procedure to isolate adipose-derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (ASCs) from adult human lipoaspirates in a closed and clinical-grade device, based on the Sepax® technology. Using a total of 11 donors, this procedure was compared with the standard operator-based manual separation in terms of isolation yield, clonogenic fraction, phenotype, and differentiation potential of ASCs. As compared with the manual process, automation resulted in a 62% higher isolation yield, with 2.6±1.2×105 nucleated cells per mL of liposuction, and a 24% higher frequency of clonogenic progenitors. The variability in the isolation yield and clonogenicity across different preparations was reduced by 18% and 50%, respectively. The cytofluorimetric profile and in vitro differentiation capacity into mesenchymal lineages were comparable in the cells isolated using the two procedures. The new Sepax-based process thus allows an efficient isolation of ASCs with higher and more reproducible yields than the standard manual procedure, along with minimal operator intervention. These results are expected to facilitate the use of ASCs for clinical purposes, either within an intraoperative setting or in combination with further in vitro cell expansion/cultivation.
Cell seeding is a critical step in tissue engineering. A high number of cells evenly distributed in scaffolds after seeding are associated with a more functional tissue culture. Furthermore, high cell densities have shown the possibility to reduce culture time or increase the formation of tissue. Experimentally, it is difficult to predict the cell-seeding process. In this study, a new methodology to simulate the cell-seeding process under perfusion conditions is proposed. The cells are treated as spherical particles dragged by the fluid media, where the physical parameters are computed through a Lagrangian formulation. The methodology proposed enables to define the kinetics of cell seeding continuously over time. An exponential relationship was found to optimize the seeding time and the number of cells seeded in the scaffold. The cell distribution and cell efficiency predicted using this methodology were similar to the experimental results of Melchels et al. One of the main advantages of this method is to be able to determine the three-dimensional position of all the seeded cells and to, therefore, better know the initial conditions for further cell proliferation and differentiation studies. This study opens up the field of numerical predictions related to the interactions between biomaterials, cells, and dynamics media.
Morphological analysis is an essential step in verifying the success of a tissue engineering strategy where the presence of a desired cellular phenotype must be determined. While morphometry has transitioned from observational grading to computational quantification, established quantitative methods eliminate information by relying on two-dimensional (2D) analysis to describe three-dimensional (3D) niches. In this study, we demonstrate the validity and utility of 3D morphological quantification using two common angiogenesis assays in our fibrin-based in vitro model: (1) the microcarrier bead assay with human mesenchymal stem cells and (2) the rat aortic ring outgrowth assay. The quantification method is based on collecting and segmenting fluorescent confocal z-stacks into 3D models with 3D Slicer, an open-source magnetic resonance imaging/computed tomography analysis program. Data from 3D models are then processed into biologically relevant metrics in MATLAB for statistical analysis. Metrics include descriptive parameters such as vascular network length, volume, number of network segments, and degree of network branching. Our results indicate that 2D measures are significantly different than their 3D counterparts unless the vascular network exhibits anisotropic growth along the plane of imaging. Additionally, the statistical outcomes of 3D morphological quantification agreed with our initial qualitative observations among different test groups. This novel quantification approach generates more spatially accurate and objective measures, representing an important step toward improving the reliability of morphological comparisons.
Manipulation of cell patterns in three dimensions in a manner that mimics natural tissue organization and function is critical for cell biological studies and likely essential for successfully regenerating tissues—especially cells with high physiological demands, such as those of the heart, liver, lungs, and articular cartilage.1,2 In the present study, we report on the feasibility of arranging iron oxide-labeled cells in three-dimensional hydrogels using magnetic fields. By manipulating the strength, shape, and orientation of the magnetic field and using crosslinking gradients in hydrogels, multi-directional cell arrangements can be produced in vitro and even directly in situ. We show that these ferromagnetic particles are nontoxic between 0.1 and 10 mg/mL; certain species of particles can permit or even enhance tissue formation, and these particles can be tracked using magnetic resonance imaging. Taken together, this approach can be adapted for studying basic biological processes in vitro, for general tissue engineering approaches, and for producing organized repair tissues directly in situ.
Tissue engineering constructs and other solid implants with biomedical applications, such as drug delivery devices or bioartificial organs, need oxygen (O2) to function properly. To understand better the vascular integration of such devices, we recently developed a novel model sensor containing O2-sensitive crystals, consisting of a polymeric capsule limited by a nanoporous filter. The sensor was implanted in mice with hydrogel alone (control) or hydrogel embedded with mouse CD117/c-kit+ bone marrow progenitor cells in order to stimulate peri-implant neovascularization. The sensor provided local partial O2 pressure (pO2) using noninvasive electron paramagnetic resonance signal measurements. A consistently higher level of peri-implant oxygenation was observed in the cell-treatment case than in the control over a 10-week period. To provide a mechanistic explanation of these experimental observations, we present in this article a mathematical model, formulated as a system of coupled partial differential equations, that simulates peri-implant vascularization. In the control case, vascularization is considered to be the result of a foreign body reaction, while in the cell-treatment case, adipogenesis in response to paracrine stimuli produced by the stem cells is assumed to induce neovascularization. The model is validated by fitting numerical predictions of local pO2 to measurements from the implanted sensor. The model is then used to investigate further the potential for using stem cell treatment to enhance the vascular integration of biomedical implants. We thus demonstrate how mathematical modeling combined with experimentation can be used to infer how vasculature develops around biomedical implants in control and stem cell-treated cases.
Human umbilical cord Wharton's jelly stem cells (HWJSCs) are gaining attention as a possible clinical source of mesenchymal stem cells for cell therapy and tissue engineering due to their high accessibility, expansion potential, and plasticity. We employed a combination of highly sensitive techniques to determine the average cell viability levels and proliferation capabilities of 10 consecutive cell passages of cultured HWJSCs and then used RNA microarrays to identify genes associated with changes in cell viability levels. We found an initial decrease in cell viability from the first to the third cell passage followed by an increase until the sixth passage and a final decrease from the sixth to tenth cell passages. The highest cell viability levels corresponded to the fifth and sixth passages. The intracellular ionic contents of potassium, sodium, and chlorine suggest that the lower cell viability levels at passages 2, 3, and 8–10 may be associated with apoptotic cell death. In fact, gene expression analysis revealed that the average cell viability was significantly associated with genes with a function in apoptotic cell death, especially pro-apoptotic FASTKD2, BNIP3L genes and anti-apoptotic TNFAIP8 and BCL2L2 genes. This correlation with both pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic genes suggests that there may be a complex live-death equilibrium in cultured HWJSCs kept in culture for multiple cell passages. In this study, the highest cell viability levels corresponded to the fifth and sixth HWJSC passages, suggesting that these passages should be preferentially employed in cell therapy or tissue engineering protocols using this cell type.
Increased sensitivity in the characterization of cartilage matrix status by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, through the identification of surrogate markers for tissue quality, would be of great use in the noninvasive evaluation of engineered cartilage. Recent advances in MR evaluation of cartilage include multiexponential and multiparametric analysis, which we now extend to engineered cartilage. We studied constructs which developed from chondrocytes seeded in collagen hydrogels. MR measurements of transverse relaxation times were performed on samples after 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks of development. Corresponding biochemical measurements of sulfated glycosaminoglycan (sGAG) were also performed. sGAG per wet weight increased from 7.74±1.34 μg/mg in week 1 to 21.06±4.14 μg/mg in week 4. Using multiexponential T2 analysis, we detected at least three distinct water compartments, with T2 values and weight fractions of (45 ms, 3%), (200 ms, 4%), and (500 ms, 97%), respectively. These values are consistent with known properties of engineered cartilage and previous studies of native cartilage. Correlations between sGAG and MR measurements were examined using conventional univariate analysis with T2 data from monoexponential fits with individual multiexponential compartment fractions and sums of these fractions, through multiple linear regression based on linear combinations of fractions, and, finally, with multivariate analysis using the support vector regression (SVR) formalism. The phenomenological relationship between T2 from monoexponential fitting and sGAG exhibited a correlation coefficient of r2=0.56, comparable to the more physically motivated correlations between individual fractions or sums of fractions and sGAG; the correlation based on the sum of the two proteoglycan-associated fractions was r2=0.58. Correlations between measured sGAG and those calculated using standard linear regression were more modest, with r2 in the range 0.43–0.54. However, correlations using SVR exhibited r2 values in the range 0.68–0.93. These results indicate that the SVR-based multivariate approach was able to determine tissue sGAG with substantially higher accuracy than conventional monoexponential T2 measurements or conventional regression modeling based on water fractions. This combined technique, in which the results of multiexponential analysis are examined with multivariate statistical techniques, holds the potential to greatly improve the accuracy of cartilage matrix characterization in engineered constructs using noninvasive MR data.
Several different detergent-based methods are currently being explored for de-cellularizing whole lungs for subsequent use as three-dimensional scaffolds for ex vivo lung tissue generation. However, it is not yet clear which of these methods may provide a scaffold that best supports re-cellularization and generation of functional lung tissue. Notably, the detergents used for de-cellularization activate matrix metalloproteinases that can potentially degrade extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins important for subsequent binding and growth of cells inoculated into the de-cellularized scaffolds. We assessed gelatinase activation and the histologic appearance, protein composition, and lung mechanics of the end product scaffolds produced with three different detergent-based de-cellularization methods utilizing either Triton-X 100/sodium deoxycholate (Triton/SDC), sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), or 3-[(3-cholamidopropyl)dimethylammonio]-1-propanesulfonate (CHAPS). There were significant differences both in gelatinase activation and in the retention of ECM and other intracellular proteins, assessed by immunohistochemistry, mass spectrometry, and western blotting as well as in airways resistance and elastance of lungs de-cellularized with the different methods. However, despite these differences, binding and initial growth following intratracheal inoculation with either bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stromal cells or with C10 mouse lung epithelial cells was similar between lungs de-cellularized with each method. Therefore despite differences in the structural composition of the de-cellularized lungs, initial re-cellularization does not appear significantly different between the three de-cellularization approaches studied.
In this project, we strived to develop a decellularized human cornea to use as a scaffold for reconstructing the corneal epithelium and anterior stroma. Human cadaver corneas were decellularized by five different methods, including detergent- and nondetergent-based approaches. The success of each method on the removal of cells from the cornea was investigated. The structural integrity of decellularized corneas was compared with the native cornea by electron microscopy. The integrity of the basement membrane of the epithelium was analyzed by histology and by the expression of collagen type IV, laminin, and fibronectin. Finally, the ability of the decellularized corneas to support the growth of human corneal epithelial cells and fibroblasts was assessed in vitro. Corneas processed using Triton X-100, liquid nitrogen, and poly(ethylene glycol) resulted in incomplete removal of cellular material. Corneas processed with the use of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) or with sodium chloride (NaCl) plus nucleases successfully removed all cellular material; however, only the NaCl plus nuclease treatment kept the epithelial basement membrane completely intact. Corneas processed with NaCl plus nuclease supported both fibroblast and epithelial cell growth in vitro, while corneas treated with SDS supported the growth of only fibroblasts and not epithelial cells. Decellularized human corneas provide a scaffold that can support the growth of corneal epithelial cells and stromal fibroblasts. This approach may be useful for reconstructing the anterior cornea and limbus using autologous cells.
Advanced tissue engineering approaches for articular cartilage repair in the knee joint rely on translational animal models. In these investigations, cartilage defects may be established either in one joint (unilateral design) or in both joints of the same animal (bilateral design). We hypothesized that a lower intraindividual variability following the bilateral strategy would reduce the number of required joints. Standardized osteochondral defects were created in the trochlear groove of 18 rabbits. In 12 animals, defects were produced unilaterally (unilateral design; n=12 defects), while defects were created bilaterally in 6 animals (bilateral design; n=12 defects). After 3 weeks, osteochondral repair was evaluated histologically applying an established grading system. Based on intra- and interindividual variabilities, required sample sizes for the detection of discrete differences in the histological score were determined for both study designs (α=0.05, β=0.20). Coefficients of variation (%CV) of the total histological score values were 1.9-fold increased following the unilateral design when compared with the bilateral approach (26 versus 14%CV). The resulting numbers of joints needed to treat were always higher for the unilateral design, resulting in an up to 3.9-fold increase in the required number of experimental animals. This effect was most pronounced for the detection of small-effect sizes and estimating large standard deviations.
The data underline the possible benefit of bilateral study designs for the decrease of sample size requirements for certain investigations in articular cartilage research. These findings might also be transferred to other scoring systems, defect types, or translational animal models in the field of cartilage tissue engineering.
Three-dimensional polymeric scaffolds provide structural support and function as substrates for cells and bioactive molecules necessary for tissue regeneration. Noninvasive real-time imaging of scaffolds and/or the process of tissue formation within the scaffold remains a challenge. Microcomputed tomography, the widely used technique to characterize polymeric scaffolds, shows poor contrast for scaffolds immersed in biological fluids, thereby limiting its utilities under physiological conditions. In this article, multiscale photoacoustic microscopy (PAM), consisting of both acoustic-resolution PAM (AR-PAM) and optical-resolution PAM (OR-PAM), was employed to image and characterize single-walled carbon-nanotube (SWNT)–incorporated poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) polymer scaffolds immersed in biological buffer. SWNTs were incorporated to reinforce the mechanical properties of the scaffolds, and to enhance the photoacoustic signal from the scaffolds. By choosing excitation wavelengths of 570 and 638 nm, multiscale PAM could spectroscopically differentiate the photoacoustic signals generated from blood and from carbon-nanotube-incorporated scaffolds. OR-PAM, providing a fine lateral resolution of 2.6 μm with an adequate tissue penetration of 660 μm, successfully quantified the average porosity and pore size of the scaffolds to be 86.5%±1.2% and 153±15 μm in diameter, respectively. AR-PAM further extended the tissue penetration to 2 mm at the expense of lateral resolution (45 μm). Our results suggest that PAM is a promising tool for noninvasive real-time imaging and monitoring of tissue engineering scaffolds in vitro, and in vivo under physiological conditions.
Adult mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) are a valuable source of multipotent progenitors for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, but may require to be genetically modified to widen their efficacy in therapeutic applications. For example, overexpression of the angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) at controlled levels is an attractive strategy to overcome the crucial bottleneck of graft vascularization and to avoid aberrant vascular growth. Since the regenerative potential of MSCs is rapidly lost during in vitro expansion, we sought to develop an optimized technique to achieve high-efficiency retroviral vector transduction of MSCs derived from both adipose tissue (adipose stromal cells, ASCs) or bone marrow (BMSCs) and rapidly select cells expressing desired levels of VEGF with minimal in vitro expansion. The proliferative peak of freshly isolated human ASCs and BMSCs was reached 4 and 6 days after plating, respectively. By performing retroviral vector transduction at this time point, >90% efficiency was routinely achieved before the first passage. MSCs were transduced with vectors expressing rat VEGF164 quantitatively linked to a syngenic cell surface marker (truncated rat CD8). Retroviral transduction and VEGF expression did not affect MSC phenotype nor impair their in vitro proliferation and differentiation potential. Transgene expression was also maintained during in vitro differentiation. Furthermore, three subpopulations of transduced BMSCs homogeneously producing specific low, medium, and high VEGF doses could be prospectively isolated by flow cytometry based on the intensity of their CD8 expression already at the first passage. In conclusion, this optimized platform allowed the generation of populations of genetically modified MSCs, expressing specific levels of a therapeutic transgene, already at the first passage, thereby minimizing in vitro expansion and loss of regenerative potential.
Engineering of the membrane-like tissue structures to be utilized in highly dynamic loading environments such as the cardiovascular system has been a challenge in the past decade. Scaffolds are critical components of the engineered tissue membranes and allow them being formed in vitro and remain secure in vivo when implanted in the body. Several approaches have been taken to develop scaffolds for tissue membranes. However, all methods entail limitations due to structural vulnerability, short-term functionality, and mechanical properties of the resulted membrane constructs. To overcome these issues, we have developed a novel hybrid scaffold made of an extra thin layer of metal mesh tightly enclosed by biological matrix components. This approach retains all the advantages of using biological scaffolds while developing a strong extracellular matrix that can stand various types of loads after implantation inside the body.
We report for the first time the fabrication of a three-dimensional tissue structure containing, in a continuous layer, the morphological features of a lip: epidermal skin, vermillion, and oral mucosa. This tissue engineered muco-cutaneous (M/C) equivalent was manufactured using human oral and skin keratinocytes grown on an acellular, nonimmunogenic dermal equivalent (AlloDerm®) to produce a tissue equivalent with similar anatomic and handling properties as native human lips. Confirmation of the structural composition of the construct was performed using routine histology and immunohistochemistry by identification of epithelial markers that are differentially expressed in separate anatomic areas of the lips. These full-thickness human lip skin equivalents can be used in surgical lip reconstruction in individuals suffering from lip loss from cancer, congenital deformations, and injuries after accidents. We propose this technique can be used as a general basis for tissue engineering of M/C junctions in other parts of the body, such as anus and vagina.
The self-sorting of cells into distinct compartments in three-dimensional (3D) microtissues is a process critical to developmental biology, cancer metastasis, and tissue engineering. Although self-sorting has been studied since the 1950s, little quantitative data exist that describe this dynamic process. Here, we describe a recently developed assay designed to quantify the extent and kinetics of self-sorting in 3D. Mixtures of fluorescently labeled normal human fibroblasts (NHF) and hepatocyte (H35) cells were fluorescently labeled, red and green respectively, and seeded onto micro-molded non-adhesive hydrogels. The cells self-assembled into a spheroid and self-sorted with NHFs forming the central core and H35s forming the outer shell. A time course of fluorescent images was used to analyze the ratio of red (NHFs) and green (H35s) fluorescence in concentric hollow cylinders throughout a spheroid and was statistically compared with the fluorescent ratio of the perfectly sorted spheroid. We found that NHFs and H35s, at a 1:1 ratio, sorted to a final extent of 88±3% at an initial rate of 0.36±0.06% per minute and reached 50% self-sorted at 2.7±0.3 h. Studies with varying ratios of NHFs and H35s show that self-sorting and self-assembly are coincident in time when the proportion of NHFs are varied over a 6-fold range (14% to 85%). This method can, thus, be used to characterize the sorting behavior of additional pairs of cells, the effect of drugs, and growth factors that may change the kinetics of the process, and bring an understanding to the cellular mechanisms which control self-sorting.
After assessing cell viability (CV), tissue-engineered constructs are often discarded, as current CV assays commonly require specific (fluorescent) dyes to stain cells and may need scaffold/tissue digestion before quantifying the live and dead cells. Here, we demonstrate and evaluate how cellular auto-fluorescence can be exploited to facilitate a noninvasive CV estimation in three-dimensional scaffolds using two advanced microscopy methods. Mixtures of live and dead C2C12 myoblasts (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% live cells) were prepared, and CV was determined before seeding cells into collagen carriers using the trypan blue (TB) assay. Cell-seeded collagen gels ([CSCGs], n=5/cell mixture) were produced by mixing collagen solution with the live/dead cell mixtures (7×106 cells/mL). After polymerization, two-photon microscopy (TPM) and confocal microscopy images of the CSCG were acquired (n=30 images/CSCG). It was found that live and dead cells systematically emit auto-fluorescent light with different spectral characteristics. Viable cells showed predominantly blue fluorescence with a peak emission around 470 nm, whereas dead cells appeared to mainly emit green fluorescent light with a peak intensity around 560 nm. For TPM, live and dead cells were distinguished spectrally. For confocal images, the intensity ratio of images taken with band-pass filters was used to distinguish live from dead cells. CV values obtained with both TPM and confocal imaging did not significantly differ from those acquired with the established TB method. In comparison to TPM, confocal microscopy was found to be less accurate in assessing the exact CV in constructs containing mostly live or dead cells. In summary, monitoring cellular auto-fluorescence using advanced microscopy techniques allows CV assessment requiring no additional dyes and/or scaffold digestion and, thus, may be especially suitable for tissue-engineering studies where CV is measured at multiple time points.