Biology

Reversible patterning and actuation of hydrogels by electrically assisted ionoprinting

Abstract

The ability to pattern, structure, re-shape and actuate hydrogels is important for biomimetics, soft robotics, cell scaffolding and biomaterials. Here we introduce an ‘ionoprinting’ technique with the capability to topographically structure and actuate hydrated gels in two and three dimensions by locally patterning ions via their directed injection and complexation, assisted by electric fields. The ionic binding changes the local mechanical properties of the gel to induce relief patterns and, in some cases, evokes localized stress large enough to cause rapid folding. These ionoprinted patterns are stable for months, yet the ionoprinting process is fully reversible by immersing the gel in a chelator. The mechanically patterned hydrogels exhibit programmable temporal and spatial shape transitions, and serve as a basis for a new class of soft actuators that can gently manipulate objects both in air and in liquid solutions.

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Reversible patterning and actuation of hydrogels by electrically assisted ionoprinting

Osteogenesis of Mesenchymal Stem Cells by Nanoscale Mechanotransduction

Abstract

It is likely that mesenchymal stem cells will find use in many autologous regenerative therapies. However, our ability to control cell stem growth and differentiation is presently limited, and this is a major hurdle to the clinical use of these multipotent cells especially when considering the desire not to use soluble factors or complex media formulations in culture. Also, the large number of cells required to be clinically useful is currently a hurdle to using materials-based (stiffness, chemistry, nanotopography, etc.) culture substrates. Here we give a first demonstration of using nanoscale sinusoidal mechanotransductive protocols (10–14 nm displacements at 1 kHz frequency), “nanokicking”, to promote osteoblastogenesis in human mesenchymal stem cell cultures. On the basis of application of the reverse piezo effect, we use interferometry to develop the optimal stem cell stimulation conditions, allowing delivery of nanoscale cues across the entire surface of the Petri dishes used. A combination of immunofluorescence, PCR, and microarray has then been used to demonstrate osteoblastogenesis, and the arrays implicate RhoA as central to osteoblastic differentiation in agreement with materials-based strategies. We validate this with pharmacological inhibition of RhoA kinase. It is easy to envisage such stimulation protocols being up-scaled to form large-scale osteoblast bioreactors as standard cell culture plates and incubators are used in the protocol.

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Osteogenesis of Mesenchymal Stem Cells by Nanoscale Mechanotransduction

Ultralow protein adsorbing coatings from clickable PEG nanogel solutions: Benefits of attachment under salt-induced phase separation conditions and comparison with PEG/albumin nanogel coatings

Abstract

Clickable nanogel solutions were synthesized by using the copper catalyzed azide/alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) to partially polymerize solutions of azide and alkyne functionalized poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) monomers. Coatings were fabricated using a second click reaction: a UV thiol-yne attachment of the nanogel solutions to mercaptosilanated glass. Because the CuAAC reaction was effectively halted by the addition of a copper-chelator, we were able to prevent bulk gelation and limit the coating thickness to a single monolayer of nanogels in the absence of the solution reaction. This enabled the inclusion of kosmotropic salts, which caused the PEG to phase-separate and nearly double the nanogel packing density, as confirmed by Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation (QCM-D). Protein adsorption was analyzed by single molecule counting with total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy and cell adhesion assays. Coatings formed from the phase-separated clickable nanogel solutions attached with salt adsorbed significantly less fibrinogen than other 100% PEG coatings tested, as well as poly-L-lysine-g-PEG (PLL-g-PEG) coatings. However, PEG/albumin nanogel coatings still outperformed the best 100% PEG clickable nanogel coatings. Additional surface crosslinking of the clickable nanogel coating in the presence of copper further reduced levels of fibrinogen adsorption closer to those of PEG/albumin nanogel coatings. However, this step negatively impacted long-term resistance to cell adhesion and dramatically altered the morphology of the coating by atomic force microscopy (AFM). The main benefit of the click strategy is that the partially polymerized solutions are stable almost indefinitely, allowing attachment in the phase-separated state without danger of bulk gelation, and thus, producing the best performing 100% PEG coating that we have studied to date.

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Ultralow protein adsorbing coatings from clickable PEG nanogel solutions: Benefits of attachment under salt-induced phase separation conditions and comparison with PEG/albumin nanogel coatings

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