Date of this Version
Cell culture systems for studying the combined effects of matrix proteins and mechanical forces on the behavior of soft tissue cells have not been well developed. Here, we describe a new biomimetic cell culture system that allows for the study of mixtures of matrix proteins while controlling mechanical stiffness in a range that is physiological for soft tissues. This system consists of layer-by-layer (LbL)-assembled films of native matrix proteins atop mechanically tunable soft supports. We used hepatic stellate cells, which differentiate to myofibroblasts in liver fibrosis, for proof-of-concept studies. By culturing cells on collagen and lumican LbL-modified hydrogels, we demonstrate that this system is noncytotoxic and offers a valid control substrate, that the hydrogel determines the overall system mechanics, and that the addition of lumican to collagen influences the stellate cell phenotype. LbL-modified hydrogels offer the potential to study the influence of complex environmental factors on soft-tissue cells in culture.
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lumican, hepatic stellate cell, hydrogel, polyacrylamide, elastic modulus, liver fibrosis, layer-by-layer assembly
Date Posted: 26 July 2017
This document has been peer reviewed.