Wednesday, 11 March 2015 07:43

Coextruded, Aligned, and Gradient-Modified Poly(ε-caprolactone) Fibers as Platforms for Neural Growth

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Polymeric fibers are of increasing interest to regenerative medicine, as materials made from these fibers are porous, allowing for cell infiltration, influx of nutrients, and efflux of waste products. Recently, multilayered coextrusion has emerged as a scalable and rapid fabrication method to yield microscale to submicron fibers. In this report, we describe the multilayered coextrusion of aligned poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) fibers, followed by a simple photochemical patterning to create surface-immobilized gradients onto the polymer fibers. PCL fibers were photochemically decorated with a linear gradient of propargyl benzophenone using a gradient photomask to control light source intensity. The pendant alkynes were then able to undergo the copper-catalyzed azide–alkyne cycloaddition reaction with an azide-modified IKVAV peptide to further functionalize the surface. Gradient-modified IKVAV fibers were evaluated for neural cell adhesion and neural differentiation, using PC-12 cells cultured onto the fibers. The aligned gradient fibers provided directional cues for neurite outgrowth and alignment of neural cells, as observed by cellular elongation, neurite differentiation, and orientation. The work presented herein describes a scalable fiber system combined with simple chemical patterning to generate aligned fibers with controlled surface gradients as cell-seeding scaffolds.


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