A novel Bruch's membrane-mimetic electrospun substrate scaffold for human retinal pigment epithelium cells.

PMID 25220295


Various artificial membranes have been used as scaffolds for retinal pigment epithelium cells (RPE) for monolayer reconstruction, however, long-term cell viability and functionality are still largely unknown. This study aimed to construct an ultrathin porous nanofibrous film to mimic Bruch's membrane, and in particular to investigate human RPE cell responses to the resultant substrates. An ultrathin porous nanofibrous membrane was fabricated by using regenerated wild Antheraea pernyi silk fibroin (RWSF), polycaprolactone (PCL) and gelatin (Gt) and displayed a thickness of 3-5 μm, with a high porosity and an average fiber diameter of 166 ± 85 nm. Human RPE cells seeded on the RWSF/PCL/Gt membranes showed a higher cell growth rate (p < 0.05), and a typical expression pattern of RPE signature genes, with reduced expression of inflammatory mediators. With long-term cultivation on the substrates, RPE cells exhibited characteristic polygonal morphology and development of apical microvilli. Immunocytochemisty demonstrated RPE-specific expression profiles in cells after 12-weeks of co-culture on RWSF/PCL/Gt membranes. Interestingly, the cells on the RWSF/PCL/Gt membranes functionally secreted polarized PEDF and phagocytosed labeled porcine POS. Furthermore, RWSF/PCL/Gt membranes transplanted subsclerally exhibited excellent biocompatibility without any evidence of inflammation or rejection. In conclusion, we established a novel RWSF-based substrate for growth of RPE cells with excellent cytocompatibility in vitro and biocompatibility in vivo for potential use as a prosthetic Bruch's membrane for RPE transplantation.