Galactose-functionalized PolyHIPE scaffolds for use in routine three dimensional culture of mammalian hepatocytes

Adam S. Hayward, Ahmed M. Eissa, Daniel J. Maltman, Naoko Sano, Stefan A. Przyborski, Neil R. Cameron

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49 Citations (Scopus)


Three-dimensional (3D) cell culture is regarded as a more physiologically relevant method of growing cells in the laboratory compared to traditional monolayer cultures. Recently, the application of polystyrene-based scaffolds produced usingpolyHIPE technology (porous polymers derived from high internal phase emulsions) for routine 3D cell culture applications has generated very promising results in terms of improved replication of native cellular function in the laboratory. These materials, which are now available as commercial scaffolds, are superior to many other 3D cell substrates due to their high porosity, controllable morphology, and suitable mechanical strength. However, until now there have been no reports describing the surface-modification of these materials for enhanced cell adhesion and function. This study, therefore, describes the surface functionalization of these materials with galactose, a carbohydrate known to specifically bind to hepatocytes via the asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPR), to further improve hepatocyte adhesion and function when growing on the scaffold. We first modify a typical polystyrene-based polyHIPE to produce a cell culture scaffold carrying pendent activated-ester functionality. This was achieved via the incorporation of pentafluorophenyl acrylate (PFPA) into the initial styrene (STY) emulsion, which upon polymerization formed a polyHIPE with a porosity of 92% and an average void diameter of 33 μm. Histological analysis showed that this polyHIPE was a suitable 3D scaffold for hepatocyte cell culture. Galactose-functionalized scaffolds were then prepared by attaching 2′-aminoethyl-β-D-galactopyranoside to this PFPA functionalized polyHIPE via displacement of the labile pentafluorophenyl group, to yield scaffolds with approximately ca. 7−9% surface carbohydrate. Experiments with primary rat hepatocytes showed that cellular albumin synthesis was greatly enhanced during the initial adhesion/settlement period of cells on the galactose-functionalized material, suggesting that the surface carbohydrates are accessible and selective to cells entering the scaffold. This porous polymer scaffold could, therefore, have important application as a 3D scaffold that offers enhanced hepatocyte adhesion and functionality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4271 - 4277
Number of pages7
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

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