Langmuir-Schaefer film deposition onto honeycomb porous films for retinal tissue engineering.Acta Biomater. 2017 05; 54:138-149.AB
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in senior citizens in the developed world. The disease is characterised by the degeneration of a specific cell layer at the back of the eye - the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which is essential in retinal function. The most promising therapeutic option to restore the lost vision is considered to be RPE cell transplantation. This work focuses on the development of biodegradable biomaterials with similar properties to the native Bruch's membrane as carriers for RPE cells. In particular, the breath figure (BF) method was used to create semi-permeable microporous films, which were thereafter used as the substrate for the consecutive Langmuir-Schaefer (LS) deposition of highly organised layers of collagen type I and collagen type IV. The newly developed biomaterials were further characterised in terms of surface porosity, roughness, hydrophilicity, collagen distribution, diffusion properties and hydrolytic stability. Human embryonic stem cell-derived RPE cells (hESC-RPE) cultured on the biomaterials showed good adhesion, spreading and morphology, as well as the expression of specific protein markers. Cell function was additionally confirmed by the assessment of the phagocytic capacity of hESC-RPE. Throughout the study, microporous films consistently showed better results as cell culture materials for hESC-RPE than dip-coated controls. This work demonstrates the potential of the BF-LS combined technologies to create biomimetic prosthetic Bruch's membranes for hESC-RPE transplantation.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of central blindness in developed countries, associated with the degeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a specific cell layer at the back of the eye. Transplantation of RPE cells derived from stem cells is considered the best option to treat these patients. In this work, we developed a cell carrier for human embryonic stem cell-derived RPE that resembled the upper layers of the membrane that naturally supports the RPE cells in the retina. The new combination of technologies employed in this study resulted in very promising materials as confirmed by our studies on cell proliferation, morphology and function.