Density Gradient Multilayered Polymerization (DGMP): A Novel Technique for Creating Multi-compartment, Customizable Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering

Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Diego.
Journal of Visualized Experiments 02/2013; DOI: 10.3791/50018
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Complex tissue culture matrices, in which types and concentrations of biological stimuli (e.g. growth factors, inhibitors, or small molecules) or matrix structure (e.g. composition, concentration, or stiffness of the matrix) vary over space, would enable a wide range of investigations concerning how these variables affect cell differentiation, migration, and other phenomena. The major challenge in creating layered matrices is maintaining the structural integrity of layer interfaces without diffusion of individual components from each layer1. Current methodologies to achieve this include photopatterning2-3, lithography4, sequential functionalization5, freeze drying6, microfluidics7, or centrifugation8, many of which require sophisticated instrumentation and technical skills. Others rely on sequential attachment of individual layers, which may lead to delamination of layers9.
DGMP overcomes these issues by using an inert density modifier such as iodixanol to create layers of varying densities10. Since the density modifier can be mixed with any prepolymer or bioactive molecule, DGMP allows each scaffold layer to be customized. Simply varying the concentration of the density modifier prevents mixing of adjacent layers while they remain aqueous. Subsequent single step polymerization gives rise to a structurally continuous multilayered scaffold, in which each layer has distinct chemical and mechanical properties. The density modifier can be easily removed with sufficient rinsing without perturbation of the individual layers or their components. This technique is therefore well suited for creating hydrogels of various sizes, shapes, and materials.
A protocol for fabricating a 2D-polyethylene glycol (PEG) gel, in which alternating layers incorporate RGDS-350, is outlined below. We use PEG because it is biocompatible and inert. RGDS, a cell adhesion peptide11, is used to demonstrate spatial restriction of a biological cue, and the conjugation of a fluorophore (Alexa Fluor 350) enables us to visually distinguish various layers. This procedure can be adapted for other materials (e.g. collagen, hyaluronan, etc.) and can be extended to fabricate 3D gels with some modifications10.

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