Organ-derived coatings on electrospun nanofibers as ex vivo microenvironments
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is an interstitial lung disease characterized by irreversible scarring. Collagen deposition, myofibroblast expansion, and the development of fibroblastic foci are the hallmark pathological events. The origin and mechanism of recruitment of myofibroblasts, the key cell contributing to these events, is unknown. We hypothesize that the fibrotic lung microenvironment causes differentiation of arriving bone marrow-derived cells into myofibroblasts. Therefore, a method of isolating the effects of fibrotic microenvironment components on various cell types was developed. Electrospun nanofibers were coated with lung extracts from fibrotic or non-fibrotic mice and used to determine effects on bone marrow cells from naïve mice. Varying moduli nanofibers were also employed to determine matrix stiffness effects on these cells. At structured time points, bone marrow cell morphology was recorded and changes in fibrotic gene expression determined by real-time PCR. Cells plated on extracts isolated from fibrotic murine lungs secreted larger amounts of extracellular matrix, adopted a fibroblastic morphology, and exhibited increased myofibroblast gene expression after 8 and 14 days; cells plated on extracts from non-fibrotic lungs did not. Similar results were observed when the nanofiber modulus was increased. This ex vivo system appears to recapitulate the three-dimensional fibrotic lung microenvironment.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 32, Issue 2, January 2011, Pages 538–546