Viability, Morphology and Function of Primary Endothelial Cells on Poly(Eta-Butyl Acrylate) Networks Having Elastic Moduli Comparable to Arteries


Soft hydrophobic poly(n-butyl acrylate) networks (cPnBA) were developed as entropy elastic substrates for passive mechanical stimulation of cells, where the elastic modulus of the cPnBAs could be systematically adjusted by variation of the cross-link density. The networks were synthesized by thermally-induced radical polymerization from n-butyl acrylate, with poly(propylene glycol) dimethacrylate (PPGDMA) acting as cross-linker, whereby the purity of the cPnBAs was confirmed by (1)H-NMR spectroscopy and gas chromatography. In this work two cPnBA polymer networks with an elastic modulus around 200 kPa and 1 MPa were investigated having an elastic modulus similar to that of arteries. Both cPnBAs exhibited an almost smooth surface with a surface roughness (R(q)) in the wet state ranging from 17 to 37 nm and a similar zeta-potential, indicating an almost identical chemical composition within the topmost surface layer in terms of functional groups. In contrast, wettability of the samples was found to be different with an advancing angle (θ(advancing)) of 1233.8 for cPnBA0250, while for cPnBA1100 significantly lower values for θ(advancing) (1113.8) were obtained. First in vitro tests were performed with primary endothelial cells (HUVEC) to study its effects on vascular cell functions. Within the time period of cultivation (72 h), the cells on the cPnBA samples reached subconfluence and showed a viability rate of almost 100%. Although cell density differed after 72 h with more cells on cPnBA0250 than on cPnBA1100, both materials showed no significant effect on the cell morphology, the cellular LDH-release, which was used as marker for the integrity of the cell membrane, and the organisation of the VE-cadherin. However, lower cell density and less actin stress fibre formation on cPnBA1100 might indicate that cell-material interaction was weaker on cPnBA1100 than on cPnBA0250. The secretion of the vasoactive cytokines prostacyclin (PGI2) and thromboxane A2 (TXA2) was low compared to previously reported values. However, the anti-thrombogenic ratio of PGI2/TXA2 - which is balanced under physiological conditions - with much higher PGI2 compared to TXA2 (up to 17.6-fold after 72 h for cPnBA1100) suggests that this material might be effective to preventing thrombosis.
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