Bioinspired hydrogel surfaces to augment corneal endothelial cell monolayer formation

Erkoc-Biradli F. Z., Ozgun A., Ozturk-Oncel M. O., Marcali M., ELBÜKEN Ç., Bulut O., ...More

JOURNAL OF TISSUE ENGINEERING AND REGENERATIVE MEDICINE, vol.15, no.3, pp.244-255, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/term.3173
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, BIOSIS, EMBASE, INSPEC, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.244-255
  • Keywords: bioinspiration, bovine corneal endothelial cells, corneal endothelium, corneal regeneration, polyacrylamide, substrate topography
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Corneal endothelial cells (CECs) have limited proliferation ability leading to corneal endothelium (CE) dysfunction and eventually vision loss when cell number decreases below a critical level. Although transplantation is the main treatment method, donor shortage problem is a major bottleneck. The transplantation of in vitro developed endothelial cells with desirable density is a promising idea. Designing cell substrates that mimic the native CE microenvironment is a substantial step to achieve this goal. In the presented study, we prepared polyacrylamide (PA) cell substrates that have a microfabricated topography inspired by the dimensions of CECs. Hydrogel surfaces were prepared via two different designs with small and large patterns. Small patterned hydrogels have physiologically relevant hexagon densities (similar to 2000 hexagons/mm(2)), whereas large patterned hydrogels have sparsely populated hexagons (similar to 400 hexagons/mm(2)). These substrates have similar elastic modulus of native Descemet's membrane (DM; similar to 50 kPa) and were modified with Collagen IV (Col IV) to have biochemical content similar to native DM. The behavior of bovine corneal endothelial cells on these substrates was investigated and results show that cell proliferation on small patterned substrates was significantly (p = 0.0004) higher than the large patterned substrates. Small patterned substrates enabled a more densely populated cell monolayer compared to other groups (p = 0.001 vs. flat and p < 0.0001 vs. large patterned substrates). These results suggest that generating bioinspired surface topographies augments the formation of CE monolayers with the desired cell density, addressing the in vitro development of CE layers.