Lubricated biodegradable polymer networks for regulating nerve cell behavior and fabricating nerve conduits with a compositional gradient
ABSTRACT We present a method of tuning surface chemistry and nerve cell behavior by photo-cross-linking methoxy poly(ethylene glycol) monoacrylate (mPEGA) with hydrophobic, semicrystalline poly(ε-caprolactone) diacrylate (PCLDA) at various weight compositions of mPEGA (ø(m)) from 2 to 30%. Improved surface wettability is achieved with corresponding decreases in friction, water contact angle, and capability of adsorbing proteins from cell culture media because of repulsive PEG chains tethered in the network. The responses of rat Schwann cell precursor line (SpL201), rat pheochromocytoma (PC12), and E14 mouse neural progenitor cells (NPCs) to the modified surfaces are evaluated. Nonmonotonic or parabolic dependence of cell attachment, spreading, proliferation, and differentiation on ø(m) is identified for these cell types with maximal values at ø(m) of 5-7%. In addition, NPCs demonstrate enhanced neuronal differentiated lineages on the mPEGA/PCLDA network at ø(m) of 5% with intermediate wettability and surface energy. This approach lays the foundation for fabricating heterogeneous nerve conduits with a compositional gradient along the wall thickness, which are able to promote nerve cell functions within the conduit while inhibiting cell attachment on the outer wall to prevent potential fibrous tissue formation following implantation.