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Changes in embryonic stem cell colony morphology and early differentiation markers driven by colloidal crystal topographical cues

Author(s): L Ji | VLS LaPointe | ND Evans | MM Stevens

Journal: European Cells and Materials (ECM)
ISSN 1473-2262

Volume: 23;
Start page: 135;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Embryonic stem cells | stem cell differentiation | silica colloidal microspheres | epithelialisation | tissue engineering

The use of materials properties to guide cell behaviour is an attractive option for regenerative medicine, where controlling stem cell behaviour is important for the establishment of a functioning cell population. A wide range of materials properties have been shown to influence many types of cells but little is known about the effects of topography on embryonic stem cells (ESCs). In order to advance this knowledge, we synthesised and characterised substrates formed of silica colloidal crystal (SCC) microspheres to present highly ordered and reproducible topographical features from 120-600 nm in diameter. We found that, compared to cells cultured on flat glass, cells cultured on the SCC substrates retained transcription of stem cell (Dppa5a, Nanog, and Pou5f1) and endoderm (Afp, Gata4, Sox17, and Foxa2) markers more similar to undifferentiated ESCs, suggesting the substrates are restricting differentiation, particularly towards the endoderm lineage. Additionally, five days after seeding, we observed strikingly different colony morphology, with cells on the SCC substrates growing in spherical colonies approximately ten cells thick, while cells on glass were growing in flat monolayers. Colonies on the SCC substrates developed a central pit, which was never observed in cells cultured on glass, and expressed proteins related to epithelialisation. Together, these data demonstrate the potential of using topographical cues to control stem cell behaviour in vitro.
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