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J R Soc Interface. 2010 Oct 6;7 Suppl 5:S649-61. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2010.0321.focus. Epub 2010 Jul 29.

An optical method to quantify the density of ligands for cell adhesion receptors in three-dimensional matrices.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The three-dimensional matrix that surrounds cells is an important insoluble regulator of cell phenotypes. Examples of such insoluble surfaces are the extracellular matrix (ECM), ECM analogues and synthetic polymeric biomaterials. Cell-matrix interactions are mediated by cell adhesion receptors that bind to chemical entities (adhesion ligands) on the surface of the matrix. There are currently no established methods to obtain quantitative estimates of the density of adhesion ligands recognized by specific cell adhesion receptors. This article presents a new optical-based methodology for measuring ligands of adhesion receptors on three-dimensional matrices. The study also provides preliminary quantitative results for the density of adhesion ligands of integrins alpha(1)beta(1) and alpha(2)beta(1) on the surface of collagen-based scaffolds, similar to biomaterials that are used clinically to induce regeneration in injured skin and peripheral nerves. Preliminary estimates of the surface density of the ligands of these two major collagen-binding receptors are 5775 +/- 2064 ligands microm(-2) for ligands of alpha(1)beta(1) and 17 084 +/- 5353 ligands microm(-2) for ligands of alpha(2)beta(1). The proposed methodology can be used to quantify the surface chemistry of insoluble surfaces that possess biological activity, such as native tissue ECM and biomaterials, and therefore can be used in cell biology, biomaterials science and regenerative medical studies for quantitative description of a matrix and its effects on cells.

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