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Liquid crystal elastomer foams with elastic properties specifically engineered as biodegradable brain tissue scaffolds

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Abstract

Tissue regeneration requires 3-dimensional (3D) smart materials as scaffolds to promote transport of nutrients. To mimic mechanical properties of extracellular matrices, biocompatible polymers have been widely studied and a diverse range of 3D scaffolds have been produced. We propose the use of responsive polymeric materials to create dynamic substrates for cell culture, which goes beyond designing only a physical static 3D scaffold. Here, we demonstrated that lactone- and lactide-based star block-copolymers (SBCs), where a liquid crystal (LC) moiety has been attached as a side-group, can be crosslinked to obtain Liquid Crystal Elastomers (LCEs) with a porous architecture using a salt-leaching method to promote cell infiltration. The obtained SmA LCE-based fully interconnected-porous foams exhibit a Young modulus of 0.23 ± 0.07 MPa and a biodegradability rate of around 20% after 15 weeks both of which are optimized to mimic native environments. We present cell culture results showing growth and proliferation of neurons on the scaffold after four weeks. This research provides a new platform to analyse LCE scaffold–cell interactions where the presence of liquid crystal moieties promotes cell alignment paving the way for a stimulated brain-like tissue.

Graphical abstract: Liquid crystal elastomer foams with elastic properties specifically engineered as biodegradable brain tissue scaffolds

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Publication details

The article was received on 29 Sep 2017, accepted on 05 Dec 2017 and first published on 13 Dec 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01949A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2018, Advance Article
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    Liquid crystal elastomer foams with elastic properties specifically engineered as biodegradable brain tissue scaffolds

    M. E. Prévôt, H. Andro, S. L. M. Alexander, S. Ustunel, C. Zhu, Z. Nikolov, S. T. Rafferty, M. T. Brannum, B. Kinsel, L. T. J. Korley, E. J. Freeman, J. A. McDonough, R. J. Clements and E. Hegmann, Soft Matter, 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01949A

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