Biomaterials in co-culture systems: Towards optimizing tissue integration and cell signaling within scaffolds
Most natural tissues consist of multi-cellular systems made up of two or more cell types. However, some of these tissues may not regenerate themselves following tissue injury or disease without some form of intervention, such as from the use of tissue engineered constructs. Recent studies have increasingly used co-cultures in tissue engineering applications as these systems better model the natural tissues, both physically and biologically. This review aims to identify the challenges of using co-culture systems and to highlight different approaches with respect to the use of biomaterials in the use of such systems. The application of co-culture systems to stimulate a desired biological response and examples of studies within particular tissue engineering disciplines are summarized. A description of different analytical co-culture systems is also discussed and the role of biomaterials in the future of co-culture research are elaborated on. Understanding the complex cell–cell and cell–biomaterial interactions involved in co-culture systems will ultimately lead the field towards biomaterial concepts and designs with specific biochemical, electrical, and mechanical characteristics that are tailored towards the needs of distinct co-culture systems.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 35, Issue 15, May 2014, Pages 4465–4476