Tailored emulsion-templated porous polymer scaffolds for iPSC-derived human neural precursor cell culture†
The work here describes the synthesis of tailor-made, porous, polymeric materials with elastic moduli in the range associated with mammalian brain tissue (0.1–24 kPa). Three new emulsion-templated porous polymer materials (polyHIPEs) were synthesised by thiol–ene photopolymerisation from hexanediol diacrylate (HDDA) and polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEGDA) crosslinkers and compared with a previously reported material prepared from trimethylolpropane triacrylate (TMPTA). The materials were found to have an average pore diameter of 30–63 μm and a porosity of 77% and above. PEGDA crosslinked materials at 80 and 85% porosity, when swollen in PBS at 37 °C, were found to have an elastic modulus of 18 and 9.0 kPa respectively. PEGDA crosslinked materials were also found to have a swelling ratio of 700% in PBS at 37 °C. PEGDA crosslinked materials had improved visible light transmission properties when compared to TMPTA crosslinked materials under a bright field microscope. All materials were shown via hematoxylin and eosin staining to support the infiltration and attachment of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs). HNPCs on all materials were demonstrated in short term 3D cultures to maintain a phenotype consistent with early neural lineage specification via immunohistochemical staining for the intermediate filament protein vimentin.