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Acta biomaterialia

Functional fabrication of recombinant human collagen-phosphorylcholine hydrogels for regenerative medicine applications.


PMID 25448347

Abstract

The implant-host interface is a critical element in guiding tissue or organ regeneration. We previously developed hydrogels comprising interpenetrating networks of recombinant human collagen type III and 2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine (RHCIII-MPC) as substitutes for the corneal extracellular matrix that promote endogenous regeneration of corneal tissue. To render them functional for clinical application, we have now optimized their composition and thereby enhanced their mechanical properties. We have demonstrated that such optimized RHCIII-MPC hydrogels are suitable for precision femtosecond laser cutting to produce complementing implants and host surgical beds for subsequent tissue welding. This avoids the tissue damage and inflammation associated with manual surgical techniques, thereby leading to more efficient healing. Although we previously demonstrated in clinical testing that RHCIII-based implants stimulated cornea regeneration in patients, the rate of epithelial cell coverage of the implants needs improvement, e.g. modification of the implant surface. We now show that our 500μm thick RHCIII-MPC constructs comprising over 85% water are suitable for microcontact printing with fibronectin. The resulting fibronectin micropatterns promote cell adhesion, unlike the bare RHCIII-MPC hydrogel. Interestingly, a pattern of 30μm wide fibronectin stripes enhanced cell attachment and showed the highest mitotic rates, an effect that potentially can be utilized for faster integration of the implant. We have therefore shown that laboratory-produced mimics of naturally occurring collagen and phospholipids can be fabricated into robust hydrogels that can be laser profiled and patterned to enhance their potential function as artificial substitutes of donor human corneas.

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