Bioactive films produced from self-assembling peptide amphiphiles as versatile substrates for tuning cell adhesion and tissue architecture in serum-free conditions†
The development of versatile bioactive surfaces able to emulate in vivo conditions is of enormous importance to the future of cell and tissue therapy. Tuning cell behaviour on two-dimensional surfaces so that the cells perform as if they were in a natural three-dimensional tissue represents a significant challenge, but one that must be met if the early promise of cell and tissue therapy is to be fully realised. Due to the inherent complexities involved in the manufacture of biomimetic three-dimensional substrates, the scaling up of engineered tissue-based therapies may be simpler if based upon proven two-dimensional culture systems. In this work, we developed new coating materials composed of the self-assembling peptide amphiphiles (PAs) C16G3RGD (RGD) and C16G3RGDS (RGDS) shown to control cell adhesion and tissue architecture while avoiding the use of serum. When mixed with the C16ETTES diluent PA at 13 : 87 (mol mol−1) ratio at 1.25 × 10−3 M, the bioactive PAs were shown to support optimal adhesion, maximal proliferation, and prolonged viability of human corneal stromal fibroblasts (hCSFs), while improving the cell phenotype. These PAs also provided stable adhesive coatings on highly-hydrophobic surfaces composed of striated polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), significantly enhancing proliferation of aligned cells and increasing the complexity of the produced tissue. The thickness and structure of this highly-organised tissue were similar to those observed in vivo, comprising aligned newly-deposited extracellular matrix. As such, the developed coatings can constitute a versatile biomaterial for applications in cell biology, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine requiring serum-free conditions.