Cell viability in a wet silica gel
A modified two-step sol–gel route using silicon ethoxide (TEOS) has been used to synthesize amorphous sol–gel-derived silica, which has been successfully used as a cell encapsulation matrix for 3T3 mouse fibroblasts and CRL-2595 epithelial cells due to its non-toxicity. The sol–gel procedure comprised a first, low pH hydrolysis step, followed by a neutral condensation–gelation step. A high water-to-TEOS ratio and the addition of d-glucose as a porogen and source of nutrients were chosen to minimize silica dissolution and improve the biocompatibility of the process. Indeed, the cell integrity in the encapsulation process was preserved by alcohol removal from the starting solution. Cells were then added in a buffered medium, causing rapid gelation and entrapment of the cells within a randomly structured siloxane matrix in the shape of a monolith, which was maintained in the wet state. MTT and alamarBlue assays were used to check the cytotoxicity of the silica gels and the viability of entrapped cells at initial times in contact with silica. To improve cell attachment, cell clumping experiments – where groups of cells were formed – were designed, rendering improved viability. The obtained materials are therefore excellent candidates for designing tissue-culture scaffolds and implantable bioreactors for biomedical applications.
Journal: Acta Biomaterialia - Volume 5, Issue 9, November 2009, Pages 3478–3487