Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) microspheres were assembled around HL-1 cardiomyocytes to produce highly porous modular scaffolds. In this study we took advantage of the immiscibility of PEG and dextran to improve upon our previously described modular scaffold fabrication methods. Phase separating the PEG microspheres in dextran solutions caused them to rapidly deswell and crosslink together, eliminating the need for serum protein-based crosslinking. This also led to a dramatic increase in the stiffness of the scaffolds and greatly improved the handling characteristics. HL-1 cardiomyocytes were present during microsphere crosslinking in the cytocompatible dextran solution, exhibiting high cell viability following scaffold formation. Over the course of 2 weeks a 9-fold expansion in cell number was observed. The cardiac functional markers sarcomeric α-actinin and connexin 43 were expressed at 13 and 24 days after scaffold formation. HL-1 cells were spontaneously depolarizing 38 days after scaffold formation, which was visualized by confocal microscopy using a calcium-sensitive dye. Electrical stimulation resulted in synchronization of activation peaks throughout the scaffolds. These findings demonstrate that PEG microsphere scaffolds fabricated in the presence of dextran can support the long-term three-dimensional culture of cells, suggesting applications in cardiovascular tissue engineering.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Molecular Biology
- HL-1 cardiomyocyte
- Phase separation