Covalently immobilized gradients of bFGF on hydrogel scaffolds for directed cell migration.
Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) was immobilized to hydrogel scaffolds with retention of mitogenic and chemotactic activity. The bFGF was functionalized in order to incorporate it covalently within polyethylene glycol (PEG) hydrogel scaffolds by reaction with acryloyl-PEG-NHS. Hydrogels were formed by exposing aqueous solutions of PEG diacrylate, acryloyl-PEG-RGDS, and acryloyl-PEG-bFGF to long-wavelength ultraviolet light in the presence of a photoinitiator. These bFGF-modified hydrogels with RGD adhesion sites were evaluated for their effect on vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) behavior, increasing SMC proliferation by approximately 41% and migration by approximately 15%. A covalently immobilized bFGF gradient was formed using a gradient maker to pour the hydrogel precursor solutions and then photopolymerizing to lock in the concentration gradient. Silver staining was used to detect the bFGF gradient, which increased linearly along the hydrogel's length. Cells were observed to align on hydrogels modified with a bFGF gradient in the direction of increasing tethered bFGF concentration as early as 24 h after seeding. SMCs also migrated differentially, up the concentration gradient, on bFGF-gradient hydrogels compared to control hydrogels with and without a constant bFGF concentration. These hydrogel scaffolds may be useful for studying protein gradient effects on cell behavior and for directing cell migration in tissue-engineering applications.
DeLong, SA; Moon, JJ; West, JL
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