Test system for evaluating the influence of polymer properties on primary human keratinocytes and fibroblasts in mono- and coculture


Interactions of cells with polymer-based biomaterials are influenced by properties of the substrate. Polymers, which are able to induce cell specific effects, gain increasing importance for biotechnology and regenerative therapies. A test system was developed, which allows studying primary human keratinocytes and fibroblasts in mono- and cocultures to analyze and operate the effect of polymer properties. This system offers to identify polymers for keratinocyte cultivation or wound dressings, since adherence, viability and functionality can be analyzed. Especially the coculture system enables the characterization of potential cell specific effects of polymer-based biomaterials. To establish a coculture test system, it is challenging to find a suitable culture medium, to identify initial seeding densities for comparable cell growth and to develop methods to distinguish and characterize both cell types. Poly(n-butyl acrylate) networks (cPnBAs) as model biomaterials were used to demonstrate the applicability of our newly developed coculture screening system for differential cell growth. The apparent Young's modulus of the cPnBAs differentially regulated fibroblasts and keratinocytes. Particularly, cPnBA73 with an apparent Young's modulus of 930 ± 140 kPa measured in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) solution at ambient temperature seemed to have favoring properties for keratinocyte adhesion, while fibroblast adhesion was not affected. For keratinocytes the concentration of some pro-inflammatory cytokines was lower on cPnBA73 and a decreased deposition of collagen, elastin and fibronectin was observed in the coculture.
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