The effects of the physical properties of culture substrates on the growth and differentiation of human embryonic stem cells
The physical factors of cell-culture environment have received little attention despite their anticipated significant role in human embryonic stem cell (hESC) culture optimization. Here we show that hESC culture conditions can be optimized by utilizing polyethylene terephthalate (PET) membranes whose defined pore densities (PDs) determine membrane surface hardness. The PET membranes with 1-4 × 10(6) pores/cm(2) (0.291-0.345 GPa) supported the adherence and survival of hESCs without matrix coating. Furthermore, PET membrane with 4 × 10(6) pores/cm(2) (0.345 GPa) supported optimal hESC self renewal as well as by the increase in cell proliferation. The expression level and activity of Rho-associated kinase (ROCK) were specifically down-regulated in hESCs cultured on the optimal PET membrane. We suggest that PET membranes of a defined PD/hardness provide an excellent culture substrate for the maintenance of uniform and undifferentiated hESCs.