[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most current drug screening assays used to identify new drug candidates are 2D cell-based systems, even though such in vitro assays do not adequately re-create the in vivo complexity of 3D tissues. Inadequate representation of the human tissue environment during a preclinical test can result in inaccurate predictions of compound effects on overall tissue functionality. Screening for compound efficacy by focusing on a single pathway or protein target, coupled with difficulties in maintaining long-term 2D monolayers, can serve to exacerbate these issues when using such simplistic model systems for physiological drug screening applications. Numerous studies have shown that cell responses to drugs in 3D culture are improved from those in 2D, with respect to modeling in vivo tissue functionality, which highlights the advantages of using 3D-based models for preclinical drug screens. In this review, we discuss the development of microengineered 3D tissue models that accurately mimic the physiological properties of native tissue samples and highlight the advantages of using such 3D microtissue models over conventional cell-based assays for future drug screening applications. We also discuss biomimetic 3D environments, based on engineered tissues as potential preclinical models for the development of more predictive drug screening assays for specific disease models.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most cells in the body secrete, or are in intimate contact with extracellular matrix (ECM), which provides structure to tissues and regulates various cellular phenotypes. Cells are well known to respond to biochemical signals from the ECM, but recent evidence has highlighted the mechanical properties of the matrix, including matrix elasticity and nanotopography, as fundamental instructive cues regulating signal transduction pathways and gene transcription. Recent observations also highlight the importance of matrix nanotopography as a regulator of cellular functions, but lack of facile experimental platforms has resulted in a continued negligence of this important microenvironmental cue in tissue culture experimentation. In this review, we present our opinion on the importance of nanotopography as a biological cue, contexts in which it plays a primary role influencing cell behavior, and detail advanced techniques to incorporate nanotopography into the design of experiments, or in cell culture environments. In addition, we highlight signal transduction pathways that are involved in conveying the extracellular matrix nanotopography information within the cells to influence cell behavior.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ability of the living body to heal and regenerate itself following trauma is astonishing. Numerous events of repair and regeneration occur during our lifetime, most of which we are never aware of. Unfortunately, in some cases, the injury or defect cannot be adequately repaired solely by nature and medical intervention is required.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have examined the effects of surface nanotopography and hyaluronic acid on in vitro chondrogenesis of dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs). UV-assisted capillary force lithography (CFL) was employed to fabricate well-defined, nanostructured scaffolds of composite PEG-GelMA-HA hydrogels that consist of polyethylene glycol dimethacrylate (PEGDMA), methacrylated gelatin (GelMA), and hyaluronic acid (HA). Using this microengineered platform, we first demonstrated that DPSCs formed three-dimensional spheroids, which provide an appropriate environment for in vitro chondrogenic differentiation. We also found that DPSCs cultured on nanopatterned PEG-GelMA-HA scaffolds showed a significant up-regulation of the chondrogenic gene markers (Sox9, Alkaline phosphatase, Aggrecan, Procollagen type II, and Procollagen type X) while down-regulating the pluripotent stem cell gene, Nanog, and epithelial-mesenchymal genes (Twist, Snail, Slug) compared to tissue culture polystyrene-cultured DPSCs. Immunocytochemistry showed more extensive deposition of collagen type II in DPSCs cultured on the nanopatterned PEG-GelMA-HA scaffolds. These findings suggest that nanotopography and HA provide important cues for promoting chondrogenic differentiation of DPSCs.
Tissue Engineering Part A 04/2014; · 4.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although synthetic polymers are desirable in tissue engineering applications for the reproducibility and tunability of their properties, synthetic small diameter vascular grafts lack the capability to endothelialize in vivo. Thus, synthetically fabricated biodegradable tissue scaffolds that reproduce important aspects of the extracellular environment are required to meet the urgent need for improved vascular grafting materials. In this study, we have successfully fabricated well-defined nanopatterned cell culture substrates made of a biodegradable composite hydrogel consisting of poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate (PEGDMA) and gelatin methacrylate (GelMA) by using UV-assisted capillary force lithography. The elasticity and degradation rate of the composite PEG–GelMA nanostructures were tuned by varying the ratios of PEGDMA and GelMA. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) cultured on nanopatterned PEG–GelMA substrates exhibited enhanced cell attachment compared with those cultured on unpatterned PEG–GelMA substrates. Additionally, HUVECs cultured on nanopatterned PEG-GelM substrates displayed well-aligned, elongated morphology similar to that of native vascular endothelial cells and demonstrated rapid and directionally persistent migration. The ability to alter both substrate stiffness and degradation rate and culture endothelial cells with increased elongation and alignment is a promising next step in recapitulating the properties of native human vascular tissue for tissue engineering applications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vascular smooth muscle cells (vSMCs) retain the ability to undergo modulation in their phenotypic continuum, ranging from a mature contractile state to a proliferative, secretory state. vSMC differentiation is modulated by a complex array of microenvironmental cues, which include the biochemical milieu of the cells and the architecture and stiffness of the extracellular matrix. In this study, we demonstrate that by using UV-assisted capillary force lithography (CFL) to engineer a polyurethane substratum of defined nanotopography and stiffness, we can facilitate the differentiation of cultured vSMCs, reduce their inflammatory signature, and potentially promote the optimal functioning of the vSMC contractile and cytoskeletal machinery. Specifically, we found that the combination of medial tissue-like stiffness (11 MPa) and anisotropic nanotopography (ridge width_groove width_ridge height of 800_800_600 nm) resulted in significant upregulation of calponin, desmin, and smoothelin, in addition to the downregulation of intercellular adhesion molecule-1, tissue factor, interleukin-6, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. Further, our results allude to the mechanistic role of the RhoA/ROCK pathway and caveolin-1 in altered cellular mechanotransduction pathways via differential matrix nanotopography and stiffness. Notably, the nanopatterning of the stiffer substrata (1.1 GPa) resulted in the significant upregulation of RhoA, ROCK1, and ROCK2. This indicates that nanopatterning an 800_800_600 nm pattern on a stiff substratum may trigger the mechanical plasticity of vSMCs resulting in a hypercontractile vSMC phenotype, as observed in diabetes or hypertension. Given that matrix stiffness is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and that CFL can create different matrix nanotopographic patterns with high pattern fidelity, we are poised to create a combinatorial library of arterial test beds, whether they are healthy, diseased, injured, or aged. Such high-throughput testing environments will pave the way for the evolution of the next generation of vascular scaffolds that can effectively crosstalk with the scaffold microenvironment and result in improved clinical outcomes.
Tissue Engineering Part A 04/2014; · 4.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current tissue engineering methods lack the ability to properly recreate scaffold-free, cell dense tissues with physiological structures. Recent studies have shown that the use of nanoscale cues allows for precise control over large area 2D tissue structures without restricting cell growth or cell density. In this study, we developed a simple and versatile platform combining a thermoresponsive nanofabricated substratum (TNFS) incorporating nanotopographical cues and the gel casting method for the fabrication of scaffold-free 3D tissues. Our TNFS allows for the structural control of aligned cell monolayers, which can be spontaneously detached via a change in culture temperature. Utilizing our gel casting method, viable, aligned cell sheets can be transferred without loss of anisotropy or stacked with control over individual layer orientations. Transferred cell sheets and individual cell layers within multilayered tissues robustly retain structural anisotropy, allowing for the fabrication of scaffold-free, 3D tissues with hierarchal control of overall tissue structure.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult stem cells hold great promise as a source of diverse terminally differentiated cell types for tissue engineering applications. However, due to the complexity of chemical and mechanical cues specifying differentiation outcomes, development of arbitrarily complex geometric and structural arrangements of cells, adopting multiple fates from the same initial stem cell population, has been difficult. Here, we show that the topography of the cell adhesion substratum can be an instructive cue to adult stem cells and topographical variations can strongly bias the differentiation outcome of the cells towards adipocyte or osteocyte fates. Switches in cell fate decision from adipogenic to osteogenic lineages were accompanied by changes in cytoskeletal stiffness, spanning a considerable range in the cell softness/rigidity spectrum. Our findings suggest that human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) can respond to the varying density of nanotopographical cues by regulating their internal cytoskeletal network and use these mechanical changes to guide them toward making cell fate decisions. We used this finding to design a complex two-dimensional pattern of co-localized cells preferentially adopting two alternative fates, thus paving the road for designing and building more complex tissue constructs with diverse biomedical applications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide(1). Cardiac tissue engineering holds much promise to deliver groundbreaking medical discoveries with the aims of developing functional tissues for cardiac regeneration as well as in vitro screening assays. However, the ability to create high-fidelity models of heart tissue has proven difficult. The heart's extracellular matrix (ECM) is a complex structure consisting of both biochemical and biomechanical signals ranging from the micro- to the nanometer scale(2). Local mechanical loading conditions and cell-ECM interactions have recently been recognized as vital components in cardiac tissue engineering(3-5). A large portion of the cardiac ECM is composed of aligned collagen fibers with nano-scale diameters that significantly influences tissue architecture and electromechanical coupling(2). Unfortunately, few methods have been able to mimic the organization of ECM fibers down to the nanometer scale. Recent advancements in nanofabrication techniques, however, have enabled the design and fabrication of scalable scaffolds that mimic the in vivo structural and substrate stiffness cues of the ECM in the heart(6-9). Here we present the development of two reproducible, cost-effective, and scalable nanopatterning processes for the functional alignment of cardiac cells using the biocompatible polymer poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA)(8) and a polyurethane (PU) based polymer. These anisotropically nanofabricated substrata (ANFS) mimic the underlying ECM of well-organized, aligned tissues and can be used to investigate the role of nanotopography on cell morphology and function(10-14). Using a nanopatterned (NP) silicon master as a template, a polyurethane acrylate (PUA) mold is fabricated. This PUA mold is then used to pattern the PU or PLGA hydrogel via UV-assisted or solvent-mediated capillary force lithography (CFL), respectively(15,16). Briefly, PU or PLGA pre-polymer is drop dispensed onto a glass coverslip and the PUA mold is placed on top. For UV-assisted CFL, the PU is then exposed to UV radiation (λ = 250-400 nm) for curing. For solvent-mediated CFL, the PLGA is embossed using heat (120 °C) and pressure (100 kPa). After curing, the PUA mold is peeled off, leaving behind an ANFS for cell culture. Primary cells, such as neonatal rat ventricular myocytes, as well as human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes, can be maintained on the ANFS(2).
Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 01/2014;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Skeletal muscle is a highly organized tissue in which the extracellular matrix (ECM) is composed of highly-aligned cables of collagen with nanoscale feature sizes, and provides structural and functional support to muscle fibers. As such, the transplantation of disorganized tissues or the direct injection of cells into muscles for regenerative therapy often results in suboptimal functional improvement due to a failure to integrate with native tissue properly. Here, we present a simple method in which biodegradable, biomimetic substrates with precisely controlled nanotopography were fabricated using solvent-assisted capillary force lithography (CFL) and were able to induce the proper development and differentiation of primary mononucleated cells to form mature muscle patches. Cells cultured on these nanopatterned substrates were highly-aligned and elongated, and formed more mature myotubes as evidenced by up-regulated expression of the myogenic regulatory factors Myf5, MyoD and myogenin (MyoG). When transplanted into mdx mice models for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the proposed muscle patches led to the formation of a significantly greater number of dystrophin-positive muscle fibers, indicating that dystrophin replacement and myogenesis is achievable in vivo with this approach. These results demonstrate the feasibility of utilizing biomimetic substrates not only as platforms for studying the influences of the ECM on skeletal muscle function and maturation, but also to create transplantable muscle cell patches for the treatment of chronic and acute muscle diseases or injuries.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nanotechnology-based tools are beginning to emerge as promising platforms for quantitative high-throughput analysis of live cells and tissues. Despite unprecedented progress made over the last decade, a challenge still lies in integrating emerging nanotechnology-based tools into macroscopic biomedical apparatuses for practical purposes in biomedical sciences. In this review, we discuss the recent advances and limitations in the analysis and control of mechanical, biochemical, fluidic, and optical interactions in the interface areas of nanotechnology-based materials and living cells in both in vitro and in vivo settings.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Electrospun nanofibers have been developed into a variety of forms for tissue engineering scaffolds to regulate the cellular functions guided by nanotopographical cues. Here, we have successfully fabricated nanofiber-based scaffold complexes of rod and sheet type by combining the three microfabrication techniques of electrospinning, spin coating, and polymer melt deposition. It was demonstrated that this hybrid fabrication could produce uniaxially aligned nanofiber scaffolds supported by a thin film, allowing for a mechanically enforced substrate for cell culture as well as facile scaffold manipulation. The results of cell analysis indicated that nanofibers on spin-coated films could provide contact guidance effects on cells and retain them even after manipulation. As an application of the cell-laden nanofiber film, we built a rod-type structure by rolling up the film around a mechanically supporting core microfiber, which was incorporated by polymer melt deposition. A biocompatible and biodegradable polymer, polycaprolactone, was used throughout the processes and thus could be used as a directly implantable substitute in tissue regeneration.
Journal of the Association for Laboratory Automation 09/2013; · 1.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microfluidic platforms provide several unique advantages for drug development. In the production of drug carriers, physical properties such as size and shape, and chemical properties such as drug composition and pharmacokinetic parameters, can be modified simply and effectively by tuning the flow rate and geometries. Large numbers of carriers can then be fabricated with minimal effort and with little to no batch-to-batch variation. Additionally, cell or tissue culture models in microfluidic systems can be used as in vitro drug screening tools. Compared to in vivo animal models, microfluidic drug screening platforms allow for high-throughput and reproducible screening at a significantly lower cost, and when combined with current advances in tissue engineering, are also capable of mimicking native tissues. In this review, various microfluidic platforms for drug and gene carrier fabrication are reviewed to provide guidelines for designing appropriate carriers. In vitro microfluidic drug screening platforms designed for high-throughput analysis and replication of in vivo conditions are also reviewed to highlight future directions for drug research and development.
Advanced drug delivery reviews 07/2013; · 11.96 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Poly(N-vinylcaprolactam) (PNVCL) is a thermo-responsive polymer known to be nontoxic, water soluble, and biocompatible. Here, PNVCL homopolymer was successfully synthesized for the first time by use of a one-step vapor-phase process, termed initiated chemical vapor deposition (iCVD). Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) results showed that radical polymerization took place from N-vinylcaprolactam (NVCL) monomers without damaging the functional caprolactam ring. A sharp lower critical solution temperature (LCST) transition was observed at 31 (o)C from the iCVD PNVCL film. The thermo-responsive PNVCL surface exhibited a hydrophilic/hydrophobic alteration with external temperature change, which enabled a thermally modulated attachment and detachment of cells. The conformal coverage of PNVCL film on various substrates with complex topography including fabrics and nano-patterns was successfully demonstrated which can further be utilized to fabricate cell sheets with aligned cell morphology. The advantage of this system is that cells cultured on such thermo-responsive surfaces could be recovered as an intact cell sheet by simply lowering the temperature, eliminating the need for conventional enzymatic treatments.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tunneling nanotubes (TNTs) have previosly been observed as long and thin transient structures forming between cells and intercellular protein transfer through them has been experimentally verified. It is hypothesized that this may be a physiologically important means of cell-cell communication. This paper attempts to give a simple model for the rates of transfer of molecules across these TNTs at different distances. We describe the transfer of both cytosolic and membrane bound molecules between neighboring populations of cells and argue how the lifetime of the TNT, the diffusion rate, distance between cells, and the size of the molecules may affect their transfer. The model described makes certain predictions and opens a number of questions to be explored experimentally.
Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 02/2013; · 2.02 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell cycle arrest in response to hypoxia is a fundamental physiological mechanism to maintain a balance
between O2 supply and demand. Many of the cellular responses to reduced O2 availability are mediated
through the transcriptional activity of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1). We report a role for the isolated
HIF-1a subunit as an inhibitor of DNA replication, and this role was independent of HIF-1b and transcrip-
tional regulation. In response to hypoxia, HIF-1a bound to Cdc6, a protein that is essential for loading of
the minichromosome maintenance (MCM) complex (which has DNA helicase activity) onto DNA, and
promoted the interaction between Cdc6 and the MCM complex. Although the interaction between
Cdc6 and the MCM complex increased the association of the MCM proteins with chromatin, the binding
of HIF-1a to the complex decreased phosphorylation and activation of the MCM complex by the kinase
Cdc7. As a result, HIF-1a inhibited firing of replication origins, decreased DNA replication, and induced
cell cycle arrest in various cell types. These findings establish a transcription-independent mechanism
by which the stabilization of HIF-1a leads to cell cycle arrest in response to hypoxia.