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Hydrogel-Coated Textile Scaffolds as Three-Dimensional Growth Support for Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVECs): Possibilities as Coculture System in Liver Tissue Engineering

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Three-dimensional (3-D) scaffolds offer an exciting possibility to develop cocultures of various cell types. Here we report chitosan–collagen hydrogel-coated fabric scaffolds with defined mesh size and fiber diameter for 3-D culture of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). These scaffolds did not require precoating with fibronectin and they supported proper HUVEC attachment and growth. Scaffolds preserved endothelial cell-specific cobblestone morphology and cells were growing in compartments defined by the textile mesh. HUVECs on the scaffold maintained the property of contact inhibition and did not exhibit overgrowth until the end of in vitro culture (day 6). MTT assay showed that cells had preserved mitochondrial functionality. It was also noted that cell number on the chitosan-coated scaffold was lower than that of collagen-coated scaffolds. Calcein AM and ethidium homodimer (EtD-1) dual staining demonstrated presence of viable and metabolically active cells, indicating growth supportive properties of the scaffolds. Actin labeling revealed absence of actin stress fibers and uniform distribution of F-actin in the cells, indicating their proper attachment to the scaffold matrix. Confocal microscopic studies showed that HUVECs growing on the scaffold had preserved functionality as seen by expression of von Willebrand (vW) factor. Observations also revealed that functional HUVECs were growing at various depths in the hydrogel matrix, thus demonstrating the potential of these scaffolds to support 3-D growth of cells. We foresee the application of this scaffold system in the design of liver bioreactors wherein hepatocytes could be cocultured in parallel with endothelial cells to enhance and preserve liver-specific functions.
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Keywords: HUVECs; Hydrogel; Key words: Textile scaffolds; Th

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: *Biocompatible Materials Science and Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)-Zürich, CH-8952, Zürich, Switzerland 2: †Institute for Biopharmaceutical Research Inc., Matzingen, Switzerland

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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