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Biomaterials. 2003 Mar;24(7):1213-21.

Extracellular matrix production by human osteoblasts cultured on biodegradable polymers applicable for tissue engineering.

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  • 1Center for Advanced Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, Drexel University, Room # 383, CAT Building, 3141 Chestnut Street, 19104, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


The nature of the extracellular matrix (ECM) is crucial in regulating cell functions via cell-matrix interactions, cytoskeletal organization, and integrin-mediated signaling. In bone, the ECM is composed of proteins such as collagen (CO), fibronectin (FN), laminin (LM), vitronectin (VN), osteopontin (OP) and osteonectin (ON). For bone tissue engineering, the ECM should also be considered in terms of its function in mediating cell adhesion to biomaterials. This study examined ECM production, cytoskeletal organization, and adhesion of primary human osteoblastic cells on biodegradable matrices applicable for tissue engineering, namely polylactic-co-glycolic acid 50:50 (PLAGA) and polylactic acid (PLA). We hypothesized that the osteocompatible, biodegradable polymer surfaces promote the production of bone-specific ECM proteins in a manner dependent on polymer composition. We first examined whether the PLAGA and PLA matrices could support human osteoblastic cell growth by measuring cell adhesion at 3, 6 and 12h post-plating. Adhesion on PLAGA was consistently higher than on PLA throughout the duration of the experiment, and comparable to tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS). ECM components, including CO, FN, LM, ON, OP and VN, produced on the surface of the polymers were quantified by ELISA and localized by immunofluorescence staining. All of these proteins were present at significantly higher levels on PLAGA compared to PLA or TCPS surfaces. On PLAGA, OP and ON were the most abundant ECM components, followed by CO, FN, VN and LN. Immunofluorescence revealed an extracellular distribution for CO and FN, whereas OP and ON were found both intracellularly as well as extracellularly on the polymer. In addition, the actin cytoskeletal network was more extensive in osteoblasts cultured on PLAGA than on PLA or TCPS. In summary, we found that osteoblasts plated on PLAGA adhered better to the substrate, produced higher levels of ECM molecules, and showed greater cytoskeletal organization than on PLA and TCPS. We propose that this difference in ECM composition is functionally related to the enhanced cell adhesion observed on PLAGA. There is initial evidence that specific composition of the PLAGA polymer favors the ECM. Future studies will seek to optimize ECM production on these matrices for bone tissue engineering applications.

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