The effect of structural alterations of PEG-fibrinogen hydrogel scaffolds on 3-D cellular morphology and cellular migration
The need for alternative scaffolds in tissue engineering has motivated the establishment of advanced biomaterial technologies based on biosynthetic polymers. Networks of synthetic and biologic building blocks are created into a biomimetic environment for enhanced tissue compatibility with precise structural properties. The current investigation describes a unique biosynthetic hybrid scaffold comprised of synthetic polyethylene glycol (PEG) and endogenous fibrinogen precursor molecules. The PEGylated fibrinogen is cross-linked using photoinitation in the presence of cells to form a dense cellularized hydrogel network. The fibrin-like scaffold material maintains its biofunctionality through the fibrinogen backbone, while changes in the molecular architecture of the synthetic precursor are used to alter the nanostructrual properties of the scaffold, including mesh size and permeability. The structural properties of 6- and 10-kDa PEG-fibrinogen hydrogels are characterized by measuring the swelling properties and relating them to the degradation kinetics of the scaffold. Increased concentrations of the synthetic PEG are used to further alter the network structure of the PEG-fibrinogen hydrogel. Experiments using smooth muscle cells cultured inside the PEG-fibrinogen scaffold demonstrates a qualitative relationship between the molecular architecture of the matrix and the cellular morphology. A quantitative assessment of cell migration into the hydrogel network demonstrates a strong correlation between rate of cellular invasion and the network structure of the matrix. The ability to regulate cellular characteristics using structural modifications to the PEG-fibrinogen scaffold can be a valuable tool in tissue engineering and tissue regeneration.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 27, Issue 8, March 2006, Pages 1496–1506