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Creators/Authors contains: "Davidson, Matthew D."

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  1. Abstract

    Many cell types require direct cell–cell interactions for differentiation and function; yet, this can be challenging to incorporate into 3‐dimensional (3D) structures for the engineering of tissues. Here, a new approach is introduced that combines aggregates of cells (spheroids) with similarly‐sized hydrogel particles (microgels) to form granular composites that are injectable, undergo interparticle crosslinking via light for initial stabilization, permit cell–cell contacts for cell signaling, and allow spheroid fusion and growth. One area where this is important is in cartilage tissue engineering, as cell–cell contacts are crucial to chondrogenesis and are missing in many tissue engineering approaches. To address this, granular composites are developed from adult porcine mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC) spheroids and hyaluronic acid microgels and simulations and experimental analyses are used to establish the importance of initial MSC spheroid to microgel volume ratios to balance mechanical support with tissue growth. Long‐term chondrogenic cultures of granular composites produce engineered cartilage tissue with extensive matrix deposition and mechanical properties within the range of cartilage, as well as integration with native tissue. Altogether, a new strategy of injectable granular composites is developed that leverages the benefits of cell–cell interactions through spheroids with the mechanical stabilization afforded with engineered hydrogels.

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  2. Abstract

    Cellular models are needed to study human development and disease in vitro, and to screen drugs for toxicity and efficacy. Current approaches are limited in the engineering of functional tissue models with requisite cell densities and heterogeneity to appropriately model cell and tissue behaviors. Here, we develop a bioprinting approach to transfer spheroids into self-healing support hydrogels at high resolution, which enables their patterning and fusion into high-cell density microtissues of prescribed spatial organization. As an example application, we bioprint induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac microtissue models with spatially controlled cardiomyocyte and fibroblast cell ratios to replicate the structural and functional features of scarred cardiac tissue that arise following myocardial infarction, including reduced contractility and irregular electrical activity. The bioprinted in vitro model is combined with functional readouts to probe how various pro-regenerative microRNA treatment regimes influence tissue regeneration and recovery of function as a result of cardiomyocyte proliferation. This method is useful for a range of biomedical applications, including the development of precision models to mimic diseases and the screening of drugs, particularly where high cell densities and heterogeneity are important.

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  4. Abstract

    The incorporation of a secondary network into traditional single‐network hydrogels can enhance mechanical properties, such as toughness and loading to failure. These features are important for many applications, including as biomedical materials; however, the processing of interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) hydrogels is often limited by their multistep fabrication procedures. Here, a one‐pot scheme for the synthesis of biopolymer IPN hydrogels mediated by the simultaneous crosslinking of two independent networks with light, namely: i) free‐radical crosslinking of methacrylate‐modified hyaluronic acid (HA) to form the primary network and ii) thiol–ene crosslinking of norbornene‐modified HA with thiolated guest–host assemblies of adamantane and β‐cyclodextrin to form the secondary network, is reported. The mechanical properties of the IPN hydrogels are tuned by changing the network composition, with high water content (≈94%) hydrogels exhibiting excellent work of fracture, tensile strength, and low hysteresis. As proof‐of‐concept, the IPN hydrogels are implemented as low‐viscosity Digital Light Processing resins to fabricate complex structures that recover shape upon loading, as well as in microfluidic devices to form deformable microparticles. Further, the IPNs are cytocompatible with cell adhesion dependent on the inclusion of adhesive peptides. Overall, the enhanced processing of these IPN hydrogels will expand their utility across applications.

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  5. Abstract

    Many pathologic conditions lead to the development of tissue scarring and fibrosis, which are characterized by the accumulation of abnormal extracellular matrix (ECM) and changes in tissue mechanical properties. Cells within fibrotic tissues are exposed to dynamic microenvironments that may promote or prolong fibrosis, which makes it difficult to treat. Biomaterials have proved indispensable to better understand how cells sense their extracellular environment and are now being employed to study fibrosis in many tissues. As mechanical testing of tissues becomes more routine and biomaterial tools become more advanced, the impact of biophysical factors in fibrosis are beginning to be understood. Herein, fibrosis from a materials perspective is reviewed, including the role and mechanical properties of ECM components, the spatiotemporal mechanical changes that occur during fibrosis, current biomaterial systems to study fibrosis, and emerging biomaterial systems and tools that can further the understanding of fibrosis initiation and progression. This review concludes by highlighting considerations in promoting wide‐spread use of biomaterials for fibrosis investigations and by suggesting future in vivo studies that it is hoped will inspire the development of even more advanced biomaterial systems.

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  6. Abstract

    The extracellular matrix (ECM) has force‐responsive (i.e., mechanochemical) properties that enable adaptation to mechanical loading through changes in fibrous network structure and interfiber bonding. Imparting such properties into synthetic fibrous materials will allow reinforcement under mechanical load, the potential for material self‐adhesion, and the general mimicking of ECM. Multifiber hydrogel networks are developed through the electrospinning of multiple fibrous hydrogel populations, where fibers contain complementary chemical moieties (e.g., aldehyde and hydrazide groups) that form covalent bonds within minutes when brought into contact under mechanical load. These fiber interactions lead to microscale anisotropy, as well as increased material stiffness and plastic deformation. Macroscale structures (e.g., tubes and layered scaffolds) are fabricated from these materials through interfiber bonding and adhesion when placed into contact while maintaining a microscale fibrous architecture. The design principles for engineering plasticity described can be applied to numerous material systems to introduce unique properties, from textiles to biomedical applications.

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  7. Abstract

    Epithelial cell organoids have increased opportunities to probe questions on tissue development and disease in vitro and for therapeutic cell transplantation. Despite their potential, current protocols to grow these organoids almost exclusively depend on culture within 3D Matrigel, which limits defined culture conditions, introduces animal components, and results in heterogenous organoids (i.e., shape, size, composition). Here, a method is described that relies on hyaluronic acid hydrogels for the generation and expansion of lung alveolar organoids (alveolospheres). Using synthetic hydrogels with defined chemical and physical properties, human‐induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)‐derived alveolar type 2 cells (iAT2s) self‐assemble into alveolospheres and propagate in Matrigel‐free conditions. By engineering predefined microcavities within these hydrogels, the heterogeneity of alveolosphere size and structure is reduced when compared to 3D culture, while maintaining the alveolar type 2 cell fate of human iAT2‐derived progenitor cells. This hydrogel system is a facile and accessible system for the culture of iPSC‐derived lung progenitors and the method can be expanded to the culture of primary mouse tissue derived AT2 and other epithelial progenitor and stem cell aggregates.

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  8. Abstract

    Fibrous scaffolds fabricated via electrospinning are being explored to repair injuries within dense connective tissues. However, there is still much to be understood regarding the appropriate scaffold properties that best support tissue repair. In this study, the influence of the stiffness of electrospun fibers on cell invasion into fibrous scaffolds is investigated. Specifically, soft and stiff electrospun fibrous networks are fabricated from crosslinked methacrylated hyaluronic acid (MeHA), where the stiffness is altered via the extent of MeHA crosslinking. Meniscal fibrochondrocyte (MFC) adhesion and migration into fibrous networks are investigated, where the softer MeHA fibrous networks are easily deformed and densified through cellular tractions and the stiffer MeHA fibrous networks support ≈50% greater MFC invasion over weeks when placed adjacent to meniscal tissue. When the scaffolds are sandwiched between meniscal tissues and implanted subcutaneously, the stiffer MeHA fibrous networks again support enhanced cellular invasion and greater collagen deposition after 4 weeks when compared to the softer MeHA fibrous networks. These results indicate that the mechanics and deformability of fibrous networks likely alter cellular interactions and invasion, providing an important design parameter toward the engineering of scaffolds for tissue repair.

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