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Biomaterials

Microarray analyses to quantify advantages of 2D and 3D hydrogel culture systems in maintaining the native valvular interstitial cell phenotype.


PMID 26433490

Abstract

Valvular interstitial cells (VICs) actively maintain and repair heart valve tissue; however, persistent activation of VICs to a myofibroblast phenotype can lead to aortic stenosis. To better understand and quantify how microenvironmental cues influence VIC phenotype and myofibroblast activation, we compared expression profiles of VICs cultured on poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) gels to those cultured on tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS), as well as fresh isolates. In general, VICs cultured in hydrogel matrices had lower levels of activation (<10%), similar to levels seen in healthy valve tissue, while VICs cultured on TCPS were ∼75% activated myofibroblasts. VICs cultured on TCPS also exhibited a higher magnitude of perturbations in gene expression than soft hydrogel cultures when compared to the native phenotype. Using peptide-modified PEG gels, VICs were seeded on (2D), as well as encapsulated in (3D), matrices of the same composition and modulus. Despite similar levels of activation, VICs cultured in 2D had distinct variations in transcriptional profiles compared to those in 3D hydrogels. Genes related to cell structure and motility were particularly affected by the dimensionality of the culture platform, with higher expression levels in 2D than in 3D. These results indicate that dimensionality may play a significant role in dictating cell phenotype (e.g., through differences in polarity, diffusion of soluble signals), and emphasize the importance of using multiple metrics when characterizing cell phenotype.

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