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Biomaterials. 2007 Dec;28(35):5319-31. Epub 2007 Sep 20.

Epithelialization of hydrogels achieved by amine functionalization and co-culture with stromal cells.

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  • 1Polymer and Biomaterials Chemistry Laboratories, Chemistry Department, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S3 7HF, UK. s.rimmer@Sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

The aim of this study was to develop a hydrogel which would be suitable for corneal cell re-epithelialization when used as a corneal implant. To achieve this, a series of hydrogels were functionalized with primary amines by post-polymerization reactions between amine compounds and glycidyl ether groups attached to the hydrogels. We report a strong correlation between the structure of the amine and the viability of stromal cells and epithelial cells cultured on these hydrogels. Subsequent co-culture of epithelial and stromal cells on the amine modified hydrogels allowed successful expansion of epithelial cells on surfaces functionalized with alkyl alpha-omega diamines with carbon chain lengths of between 3 and 6. Analysis of variance showed that corneal epithelial cells had a strong preference for surfaces functionalized by the reaction of excess 1,3 diaminopropane with units of glycidyl methacrylate compared to the reaction products of other amines (ammonia; 1,2-diaminoethane; 1,4-diaminobutane or 1,6-diaminohexane). We suggest this approach of amine functionalization combined with stromal/epithelial co-culture offers a promising new approach to achieving a secure corneal epithelium.

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