Mechanical stiffness and degradability are important material parameters in tissue engineering. The aim of this study was to address the hypothesis that these variables regulate the function of myoblasts cultured in 2-D and 3-D microenvironments. Development of cell-interactive alginate gels with tunable degradation rates and mechanical stiffness was established by a combination of partial oxidation and bimodal molecular weight distribution. Higher gel mechanical properties (13 to 45 kPa) increased myoblast adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation in a 2-D cell culture model. Primary mouse myoblasts were more highly responsive to this cue than the C2C12 myoblast cell line. Myoblasts were then encapsulated in gels varying in degradation rate to simultaneously investigate the effect of degradation and subsequent reduction of mechanical properties on cells in a 3-D environment. C2C12 cells in more rapidly degrading gels exhibited lower proliferation, as they exited the cell cycle to differentiate, compared to those in nondegradable gels. In contrast, mouse primary myoblasts illustrated significantly higher proliferation in degradable gels than in nondegradable gels, and exhibited minimal differentiation in either type of gel. Altogether, these studies suggest that a critical balance between material degradation rate and mechanical properties may be required to regulate formation of engineered skeletal muscle tissue, and that results obtained with the C2C12 cell line may not be predictive of the response of primary myoblasts to environmental cues. The principles delineated in these studies may be useful to tailor smart biomaterials that can be applied to many other polymeric systems and tissue types.
Site-specific controlled release of biologically active angiogenic growth factors such as recombinant human basic fibroblast growth factor (rhbFGF) is a promising approach to improve collateral circulation in patients suffering from ischemic heart disease or peripheral vascular disease. Previously, we demonstrated stabilization of rhbFGF encapsulated in injectable poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) millicylindrical implants upon co-incorporation of Mg(OH)2 to raise the microclimate pH in the polymer. The purpose of this study was to compare stabilized (S; +Mg(OH)2+other stabilizers), partially stabilized (PS; -Mg(OH)2+other stabilizers), unstabilized (US; no stabilizers), and blank (B) PLGA-encapsulated rhFGF formulations to promote angiogenesis in SCID mice. Following 4 weeks subcutaneous implantation at a 0.1 microg dose in healthy animals, the S group exhibited significantly higher blood vessel density (62+/-17 vessels/mm2) compared with PS, US, and B groups (11+/-2*, 17+/-7*, and 3+/-1** respectively) (* p<0.05; ** p<0.01). Furthermore, the S group developed a thicker granulation layer at the tissue/implant interface relative to the other groups (39+/-7 vs 25+/-2**, 21+/-1***, and 12+/-1 microm*** respectively) (*** p<0.001). After 6 weeks implantation in mice with ischemic hindlimbs, the S group implants also markedly augmented both limb reperfusion (87+/-14%) and limb survival (5/5), whereas ischemic limbs did not recover in PS, US and B groups. Stabilized rhbFGF incorporated in pH modified PLGA millicylinders effectively promotes site-directed in vivo angiogenesis and also enables preservation of ischemic hindlimb function.
Microenvironmental conditions control tumorigenesis and biomimetic culture systems that allow for in vitro and in vivo tumor modeling may greatly aid studies of cancer cells' dependency on these conditions. We engineered three-dimensional (3D) human tumor models using carcinoma cells in polymeric scaffolds that recreated microenvironmental characteristics representative of tumors in vivo. Strikingly, the angiogenic characteristics of tumor cells were dramatically altered upon 3D culture within this system, and corresponded much more closely to tumors formed in vivo. Cells in this model were also less sensitive to chemotherapy and yielded tumors with enhanced malignant potential. We assessed the broad relevance of these findings with 3D culture of other tumor cell lines in this same model, comparison with standard 3D Matrigel culture and in vivo experiments. This new biomimetic model may provide a broadly applicable 3D culture system to study the effect of microenvironmental conditions on tumor malignancy in vitro and in vivo.
Enhanced understanding of the signals within the microenvironment that regulate cell fate has led to the development of increasingly sophisticated polymeric biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. This advancement is exemplified by biomaterials with precisely controlled scaffold architecture that regulate the spatio-temporal release of growth factors and morphogens, and respond dynamically to microenvironmental cues. Further understanding of the biology, qualitatively and quantitatively, of cells within their microenvironments and at the tissue-material interface will expand the design space of future biomaterials.
Many of the qualitative roles of growth factors involved in neovascularization have been delineated, but it is unclear yet from an engineering perspective how to use these factors as therapies. We propose that an approach that integrates quantitative spatiotemporal measurements of growth factor signaling using 3-D in vitro and in vivo models, mathematic modeling of factor tissue distribution, and new delivery technologies may provide an opportunity to engineer neovascularization on demand.
The close apposition of osteoblasts and chondrocytes in bone and their interaction during bone development and regeneration suggest that they may each regulate the other's growth and differentiation. In these studies, osteoblasts and chondrocytes were co-cultured in vitro, with both direct and indirect contact. Proliferation of the co-cultured chondrocytes was enhanced using soluble factors produced from the osteoblasts, and the differentiation level of the osteoblasts influenced the differentiation level of the chondrocytes. In addition, the chondrocytes regulated differentiation of the co-cultured osteoblasts using soluble factors and direct contact. These data support the possibility of direct, reciprocal instructive interactions between chondrocytes and osteoblasts in a variety of normal processes and further suggest that it may be necessary to account for this signaling in the regeneration of complex tissues comprising cartilage and mineralized tissue.
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are zinc-endopeptidases with multifactorial actions in central nervous system (CNS) physiology and pathology. Accumulating data suggest that MMPs have a deleterious role in stroke. By degrading neurovascular matrix, MMPs promote injury of the blood-brain barrier, edema and hemorrhage. By disrupting cell-matrix signaling and homeostasis, MMPs trigger brain cell death. Hence, there is a movement toward the development of MMP inhibitors for acute stroke therapy. But MMPs may have a different role during delayed phases after stroke. Because MMPs modulate brain matrix, they may mediate beneficial plasticity and remodeling during stroke recovery. Here, we show that MMPs participate in delayed cortical responses after focal cerebral ischemia in rats. MMP-9 is upregulated in peri-infarct cortex at 7-14 days after stroke and is colocalized with markers of neurovascular remodeling. Treatment with MMP inhibitors at 7 days after stroke suppresses neurovascular remodeling, increases ischemic brain injury and impairs functional recovery at 14 days. MMP processing of bioavailable VEGF may be involved because inhibition of MMPs reduces endogenous VEGF signals, whereas additional treatment with exogenous VEGF prevents MMP inhibitor-induced worsening of infarction. These data suggest that, contrary to MMP inhibitor therapies for acute stroke, strategies that modulate MMPs may be needed for promoting stroke recovery.
Bioactive glasses are potentially useful as bone defect fillers, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has demonstrated benefit in bone regeneration as well. We hypothesized that the specific combination of prolonged localized VEGF presentation from a matrix coated with a bioactive glass may enhance bone regeneration. To test this hypothesis, the capacity of VEGF-releasing polymeric scaffolds with a bioactive glass coating was examined in vitro and in vivo using a rat critical-sized defect model. In the presence of a bioactive glass coating, we did not detect pronounced differences in the differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells in vitro. However, we observed significantly enhanced mitogenic stimulation of endothelial cells in the presence of the bioactive glass coating, with an additive effect with VEGF release. This trend was maintained in vivo, where coated VEGF-releasing scaffolds demonstrated significant improvements in blood vessel density at 2 weeks versus coated control scaffolds. At 12 weeks, bone mineral density was significantly increased in coated VEGF-releasing scaffolds versus coated controls, while only a slight increase in bone volume fraction was observed. The results of this study suggest that a bioactive glass coating on a polymeric substrate participates in bone healing through indirect processes which enhance angiogenesis and bone maturation and not directly on osteoprogenitor differentiation and bone formation. The mass of bioactive glass used in this study provides a comparable and potentially additive, response to localized VEGF delivery over early time points. These studies demonstrate a materials approach to achieve an angiogenic response formerly limited to the delivery of inductive growth factors.
Tissue engineering approaches have been investigated as a strategy for hepatocyte transplantation; however the death of a majority of transplanted cells critically limits success of these approaches. In a previous study, a transient increase in hepatocyte survival was achieved through delivery of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) from the porous polymer scaffold utilized for cell delivery. To enhance longer-term survival of the hepatocytes, this delivery system was modified to additionally deliver epidermal growth factor (EGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in a sustained manner. Hepatocytes were subcutaneously implanted in SCID mice on scaffolds containing EGF and/or HGF, in addition to VEGF, and survival was monitored for two weeks. A short-term enhancement of hepatocyte survival was observed after one week and is attributed to VEGF-enhanced vascularization, which was not altered by EGF or HGF. Surprisingly, long-term hepatocyte engraftment was not improved, as survival declined to the level of control conditions for all growth factor combinations after two weeks. This investigation indicates that the survival of hepatocytes transplanted into heterotopic locations is dependent on multiple signals. The delivery system developed for the current study may be useful in elucidating the specific factors controlling this process, and bring therapeutic transplantation of hepatocytes closer to implementation.
Myoblast transplantation is currently limited by poor survival and integration of these cells into host musculature. Transplantation systems that enhance the viability of the cells and induce their outward migration to populate injured muscle may enhance the success of this approach to muscle regeneration. In this study, enriched populations of primary myoblasts were seeded onto delivery vehicles formed from alginate, and the role of vehicle design and local growth factor delivery in cell survival and migration were examined. Only 5 +/- 2.5% of cells seeded into nanoporous alginate gels survived for 24 h and only 4 +/- 0.5% migrated out of the gels. Coupling cell adhesion peptides (G4RGDSP) to the alginate prior to gelling slightly increased the viability of cells within the scaffold to 16 +/- 1.4% and outward migration to 6 +/- 1%. However, processing peptide-modified alginate gels to yield macroporous scaffolds, in combination with sustained delivery of HGF and FGF2 from the material, dramatically increased the viability of seeded cells over a 5-day time course and increased outward migration to 110 +/- 12%. This data indicate long-term survival and migration of myoblasts placed within polymeric delivery vehicles can be greatly increased by appropriate scaffold composition, architecture, and growth factor delivery. This system may be particularly useful in the regeneration of muscle tissue and be broadly useful in the regeneration of other tissues as well.
The adhesion ligand RGD has been coupled to various materials to be used as tissue culture matrices or cell transplantation vehicles, and recent studies indicate that nanopatterning RGD into high-density islands alters cell adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation. However, elucidating the impact of nanopattern parameters on cellular responses has been stymied by a lack of understanding of the actual ligand presentation within these systems. We have developed a multi-scale predictive modeling approach to characterize the adhesion ligand nanopatterns within an alginate hydrogel matrix. The models predict the distribution of ligand islands, the spacing between ligands within an island and the fraction of ligands accessible for cell binding. These model predictions can be used to select pattern parameter ranges for experiments on the effects of individual parameters on cellular responses. Additionally, our technique could also be applied to other polymer systems presenting peptides or other signaling molecules.
Current approaches to tissue regeneration are limited by the death of most transplanted cells and/or resultant poor integration of transplanted cells with host tissue. We hypothesized that transplanting progenitor cells within synthetic microenvironments that maintain viability, prevent terminal differentiation, and promote outward migration would significantly enhance their repopulation and regeneration of damaged host tissue. This hypothesis was addressed in the context of muscle regeneration by transplanting satellite cells to muscle laceration sites on a delivery vehicle releasing factors that induce cell activation and migration (hepatocyte growth factor and fibroblast growth factor 2) or transplantation on materials lacking factor release. Controls included direct cell injection into muscle, the implantation of blank scaffolds, and scaffolds releasing factors without cells. Injected cells demonstrated a limited repopulation of damaged muscle and led to a slight improvement in muscle regeneration, as expected. Delivery of cells on scaffolds that did not promote migration resulted in no improvement in muscle regeneration. Strikingly, delivery of cells on scaffolds that promoted myoblast activation and migration led to extensive repopulation of host muscle tissue and increased the regeneration of muscle fibers at the wound and the mass of the injured muscle. This previously undescribed strategy for cell transplantation significantly enhances muscle regeneration from transplanted cells and may be broadly applicable to the various tissues and organ systems in which provision and instruction of a cell population competent to participate in regeneration may be clinically useful.
The encapsulation of DNA into polymeric depot systems can be used to spatially and temporally control DNA release, leading to a sustained, local delivery of therapeutic factors for tissue regeneration. Prior to encapsulation, DNA may be condensed with cationic polymers to decrease particle size, protect DNA from degradation, promote interaction with cell membranes, and facilitate endosomal release via the proton sponge effect. DNA has been encapsulated with either natural or synthetic polymers to form micro- and nanospheres, porous scaffolds and hydrogels for sustained DNA release and the polymer physical and chemical properties have been shown to influence transfection efficiency. Polymeric depot systems have been applied for bone, skin, and nerve regeneration as well as therapeutic angiogenesis, indicating the broad applicability of these systems for tissue engineering.
The exposure duration and tissue distribution will likely dictate the success of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in therapeutic angiogenesis. We hypothesized that these variables can be regulated via the manner in which the VEGF is incorporated into polymer constructs (formed with a gas foaming technique) used for its delivery. VEGF was incorporated directly into poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLG) scaffolds or pre-encapsulated in PLG microspheres used to fabricate scaffolds. Protein release kinetics and tissue distribution were determined using iodinated VEGF. VEGF was positioned predominantly adjacent to scaffold pores when incorporated directly and was released rapidly (40-60% in 5 days). Pre-encapsulation led to the VEGF being more deeply embedded and resulted in a delayed release. Alterations in polymer composition, scaffold size, and matrix composition generated minor variations in release kinetics. In vivo, the released VEGF generated local protein concentrations above 10 ng/mL at distances up to 2 cm from the implant site for the 21 days of the experiment, with negligible release into the systemic circulation, and significantly enhanced local angiogenesis. These data indicate that VEGF can be administered in a sustained and localized fashion in vivo, and the timing of VEGF delivery can be altered with the mechanism of incorporation into polymer scaffolds used for its delivery.
The aim of this study was to determine if endothelial cells could enhance bone marrow stromal-cell-mediated bone regeneration in an osseous defect. Using poly-lactide-co-glycolide scaffolds as cell carriers, we transplanted bone marrow stromal cells alone or with endothelial cells into 8.5-mm calvarial defects created in nude rats. Histological analyses of blood vessel and bone formation were performed, and microcomputed tomography (muCT) was used to assess mineralized bone matrix. Though the magnitude of the angiogenic response between groups was the same, muCT analysis revealed earlier mineralization of bone in the co-transplantation condition. Ultimately, there was a significant increase (40%) in bone formation in the co-transplantation group (33 +/- 2%), compared with the transplantation of bone marrow stromal cells alone (23 +/- 3%). Analysis of these data demonstrates that, in an orthotopic site, transplanted endothelial cells can influence the bone-regenerative capacity of bone marrow stromal cells.
UNLABELLED: Bone regeneration is challenging in sites where the blood supply has been compromised by radiation. We examined the potential of a growth factor (VEGF) delivery system to enhance angiogenesis and bone formation in irradiated calvarial defects. VEGF-releasing polymers significantly increased blood vessel density and vascular perfusion in irradiated defects and increased bone formation relative to control conditions.
INTRODUCTION: Radiation therapy causes damage to tissues and inhibits its regenerative capacity. Tissue injury from radiation is in large part caused by a compromised vascular supply and reduced perfusion of tissues. The aim of this study was to determine if delivery of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) from a biodegradable PLGA (copolymer of D,L-lactide and glycolide) scaffold could enhance neovascularization and bone regeneration in irradiated osseous defects.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: An isolated area of the calvarium of Fisher rats was irradiated (12 Gy) 2 weeks preoperatively, and two 3.5-mm osseous defects were created in this area, followed by the placement of PLGA scaffolds or VEGF scaffolds (PLGA scaffolds with incorporated VEGF) into the defects. Laser Doppler perfusion imaging was performed to measure perfusion of these areas at 1, 2, and 6 weeks. Implants were retrieved at 2, 6, and 12 weeks, and histologic and muCT analyses were performed to determine neovascularization and bone regeneration.
RESULTS: Histological analyses revealed statistically significant increases in blood vessel formation (>2-fold) and function (30%) within the VEGF scaffolds compared with PLGA scaffolds. Additionally, evaluation of bone regeneration through bone histomorphometric and muCT analyses revealed significantly greater bone coverage (26.36 +/- 6.91% versus 7.05 +/- 2.09% [SD]) and increased BMD (130.80 +/- 58.05 versus 71.28 +/- 42.94 mg/cm(3)) in VEGF scaffolds compared with PLGA scaffolds.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that VEGF scaffolds have the ability to enhance neovascularization and bone regeneration in irradiated osseous defects, outlining a novel approach for engineering tissues in hypovascular environments.
[Image: see text] Alginate hydrogels are proving to have a wide applicability as biomaterials. They have been used as scaffolds for tissue engineering, as delivery vehicles for drugs, and as model extracellular matrices for basic biological studies. These applications require tight control of a number of material properties including mechanical stiffness, swelling, degradation, cell attachment, and binding or release of bioactive molecules. Control over these properties can be achieved by chemical or physical modifications of the polysaccharide itself or the gels formed from alginate. The utility of these modified alginate gels as biomaterials has been demonstrated in a number of in vitro and in vivo studies.Micro-CT images of bone-like constructs that result from transplantation of osteoblasts on gels that degrade over a time frame of several months leading to improved bone formation.
Polymeric materials used in tissue engineering were initially used solely as delivery vehicles for transplanting cells. However, these materials are currently designed to actively regulate the resultant tissue structure and function. This control is achieved through spatial and temporal regulation of various cues (e.g., adhesion ligands, growth factors) provided to interacting cells from the material. These polymeric materials that control cell function and tissue formation are termed cell instructive polymers, and recent trends in their design are outlined in this chapter.
One of the fundamental interactions in cell biology is the binding of cell receptors to adhesion ligands, and many aspects of cell behavior are believed to be regulated by the number of these bonds that form. Unfortunately, a lack of methods to quantify bond formation, especially for cells in 3D cultures or tissues, has precluded direct probing of this assumption. We now demonstrate that a FRET technique can be used to quantify the number of bonds formed between cellular receptors and synthetic adhesion oligopeptides coupled to an artificial extracellular matrix. Similar quantitative relations were found between bond number and the proliferation and differentiation of MC3T3-E1 preosteoblasts and C2C12 myoblasts, although the relation was distinct for each cell type. This approach to understanding 3D cell-extracellular matrix interactions will allow one to both predict cell behavior and to use bond number as a fundamental design criteria for synthetic extracellular matrices.