Elucidating the mechanobiology of malignant brain tumors using a brain matrix-mimetic hyaluronic acid hydrogel platform.
ABSTRACT: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a malignant brain tumor characterized by diffuse infiltration of single cells into the brain parenchyma, which is a process that relies in part on aberrant biochemical and biophysical interactions between tumor cells and the brain extracellular matrix (ECM). A major obstacle to understanding ECM regulation of GBM invasion is the absence of model matrix systems that recapitulate the distinct composition and physical structure of brain ECM while allowing independent control of adhesive ligand density, mechanics, and microstructure. To address this need, we synthesized brain-mimetic ECMs based on hyaluronic acid (HA) with a range of stiffnesses that encompasses normal and tumorigenic brain tissue and functionalized these materials with short Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) peptides to facilitate cell adhesion. Scanning electron micrographs of the hydrogels revealed a dense, sheet-like microstructure with apparent nanoscale porosity similar to brain extracellular space. On flat hydrogel substrates, glioma cell spreading area and actin stress fiber assembly increased strongly with increasing density of RGD peptide. Increasing HA stiffness under constant RGD density produced similar trends and increased the speed of random motility. In a three-dimensional (3D) spheroid paradigm, glioma cells invaded HA hydrogels with morphological patterns distinct from those observed on flat surfaces or in 3D collagen-based ECMs but highly reminiscent of those seen in brain slices. This material system represents a brain-mimetic model ECM with tunable ligand density and stiffness amenable to investigations of the mechanobiological regulation of brain tumor progression.
Project description:Epithelial cells cultured within collagen and laminin gels proliferate to form hollow and polarized spherical structures, recapitulating the formation of a rudimentary epithelial organ. However, the contributions of extracellular matrix (ECM) biochemical and biophysical properties to morphogenesis are poorly understood because of uncontrolled presentation of multiple adhesive ligands, limited control over mechanical properties, and lot-to-lot compositional variability in these natural ECMs. We engineered synthetic ECM-mimetic hydrogels with independent control over adhesive ligand density, mechanical properties, and proteolytic degradation to study the impact of ECM properties on epithelial morphogenesis. Normal cyst growth, polarization, and lumen formation were restricted to a narrow range of ECM elasticity, whereas abnormal morphogenesis was observed at lower and higher elastic moduli. Adhesive ligand density dramatically regulated apicobasal polarity and lumenogenesis independently of cell proliferation. Finally, a threshold level of ECM protease degradability was required for apicobasal polarity and lumen formation. This synthetic ECM technology provides new insights into how cells transduce ECM properties into complex morphogenetic behaviors.
Project description:Hyaluronan (HA) is a glycosamminoglican involved in cell biology as well as a relevant polymer for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Megakaryocytes (Mks) are immersed in a mesh of extracellular matrix (ECM) components that regulate their maturation in the bone marrow (BM) and the release of platelets into the bloodstream. While fibrous ECMs such as collagens and fibronectin have been demonstrated to differently regulate Mk function and platelet release, the role of HA, that fills the majority of the BM extracellular interstitial space, has not been investigated so far. Here we demonstrated that, although human Mks express HA receptors, they are not affected by HA in terms of in vitro differentiation, maturation and platelet formation. Importantly, chemical properties of HA were exploited to generate hydrogels with entrapped ECMs that represent a useful model to more closely mimic the tridimensional characteristics of the BM environment for studying Mk function. In conclusion, in this work we demonstrated that HA is an ideal candidate for a 3D ex vivo model of human BM ECM component environment.
Project description:Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumors, which arise from glia in the central nervous system (CNS), are one of the most deadly forms of human cancer with a median survival time of ?1 year. Their high infiltrative capacity makes them extremely difficult to treat, and even with aggressive multimodal clinical therapies, outcomes are dismal. To improve understanding of cell migration in these tumors, three-dimensional (3D) multicomponent composite hydrogels consisting of collagen and hyaluronic acid, or hyaluronan (HA), were developed. Collagen is a component of blood vessels known to be associated with GBM migration; whereas, HA is one of the major components of the native brain extracellular matrix (ECM). We characterized hydrogel microstructural features and utilized these materials to investigate patient tumor-derived, single cell morphology, spreading, and migration in 3D culture. GBM morphology was influenced by collagen type with cells adopting a rounded morphology in collagen-IV versus a spindle-shaped morphology in collagen-I/III. GBM spreading and migration were inversely dependent on HA concentration; with higher concentrations promoting little or no migration. Further, noncancerous astrocytes primarily displayed rounded morphologies at lower concentrations of HA; in contrast to the spindle-shaped (spread) morphologies of GBMs. These results suggest that GBM behaviors are sensitive to ECM mimetic materials in 3D and that these composite hydrogels could be used to develop 3D brain mimetic models for studying migration processes.
Project description:Macrophages are a predominant immune cell population that drive inflammatory responses and exhibit transitions in phenotype and function during tissue remodeling in disease and repair. Thus, engineering an immunomodulatory biomaterial has significant implications for resolving inflammation. Here, a biomimetic and photoresponsive hyaluronan (HA) hydrogel nanocomposite with tunable 3D extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion sites for dynamic macrophage immunomodulation is engineered. Photodegradative alkoxylphenacyl-based polycarbonate (APP) nanocomposites are exploited to permit user-controlled Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) adhesive peptide release and conjugation to a HA-based ECM for real-time integrin activation of macrophages encapsulated in 3D HA-APP nanocomposite hydrogels. It is demonstrated that photocontrolled 3D ECM-RGD peptide conjugation can activate ?v?3 integrin of macrophages, and periodic ?v?3 integrin activation can enhance anti-inflammatory M2 macrophage polarization. Altogether, an emerging use of biomimetic, photoresponsive, and bioactive HA-APP nanocomposite hydrogel is highlighted to command 3D cell-ECM interactions for modulating macrophage polarization, which may shed light on cell-ECM interactions in innate immunity and inspire new biomaterial-based immunomodulatory therapies.
Project description:Synthetic hydrogel scaffolds that can be used as culture systems that mimic the natural stem cell niche are of increased importance for stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. These artificial niches can be utilized to control the stem cell fate and will have potential applications for expanding/differentiating stem cells in vitro, delivering stem cells in vivo, as well as making tissue constructs. In this study, we synthesized hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels that could be degraded through a combination of cell-released enzymes and used them to culture mouse mesenchymal stem cells (mMSC). To form the hydrogels, HA was modified to contain acrylate groups and crosslinked through Michael addition chemistry using non-degradable, plasmin degradable or matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) degradable crosslinkers. Using this hydrogel we found that mMSC proliferation occurred in the absence of cell spreading, that mMSCs could only spread when both RGD and MMP degradation sites were present in the hydrogel and that mMSCs in hydrogels with high density of RGD (1000 ?m) spread and migrated faster and more extensively than in hydrogels with low density of RGD (100 ?m).
Project description:Effective synthetic tissue engineering scaffolds mimic the structure and composition of natural extracellular matrix (ECM) to promote optimal cellular adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation. Among many proteins of the ECM, collagen and fibronectin are known to play a key role in the scaffold's structural integrity as well as its ability to support cell adhesion. Here, we present photocrosslinked poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogels displaying collagen mimetic peptides (CMPs) that can be further conjugated to bioactive molecules via CMP-CMP triple helix association. Pre-formed PEGDA-CMP hydrogels can be encoded with varying concentration of cell-signaling CMP-RGD peptides similar to cell adhesive fibronectin decorating the collagen fibrous network by non-covalent binding. Furthermore, the triple helix mediated encoding allows facile generation of spatial gradients and patterns of cell-instructive cues across the cell scaffold that simulate distribution of insoluble factors in the natural ECM.
Project description:Natural extracellular matrices (ECMs) are viscoelastic and exhibit stress relaxation. However, hydrogels used as synthetic ECMs for three-dimensional (3D) culture are typically elastic. Here, we report a materials approach to tune the rate of stress relaxation of hydrogels for 3D culture, independently of the hydrogel's initial elastic modulus, degradation, and cell-adhesion-ligand density. We find that cell spreading, proliferation, and osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are all enhanced in cells cultured in gels with faster relaxation. Strikingly, MSCs form a mineralized, collagen-1-rich matrix similar to bone in rapidly relaxing hydrogels with an initial elastic modulus of 17?kPa. We also show that the effects of stress relaxation are mediated by adhesion-ligand binding, actomyosin contractility and mechanical clustering of adhesion ligands. Our findings highlight stress relaxation as a key characteristic of cell-ECM interactions and as an important design parameter of biomaterials for cell culture.
Project description:Biologic scaffolds composed of extracellular matrix (ECM) are commonly used repair devices in preclinical and clinical settings; however the use of these scaffolds for peripheral and central nervous system (CNS) repair has been limited. Biologic scaffolds developed from brain and spinal cord tissue have recently been described, yet the conformation of the harvested ECM limits therapeutic utility. An injectable CNS-ECM derived hydrogel capable of in vivo polymerization and conformation to irregular lesion geometries may aid in tissue reconstruction efforts following complex neurologic trauma. The objectives of the present study were to develop hydrogel forms of brain and spinal cord ECM and compare the resulting biochemical composition, mechanical properties, and neurotrophic potential of a brain derived cell line to a non-CNS-ECM hydrogel, urinary bladder matrix. Results showed distinct differences between compositions of brain ECM, spinal cord ECM, and urinary bladder matrix. The rheologic modulus of spinal cord ECM hydrogel was greater than that of brain ECM and urinary bladder matrix. All ECMs increased the number of cells expressing neurites, but only brain ECM increased neurite length, suggesting a possible tissue-specific effect. All hydrogels promoted three-dimensional uni- or bi-polar neurite outgrowth following 7 days in culture. These results suggest that CNS-ECM hydrogels may provide supportive scaffolding to promote in vivo axonal repair.
Project description:Biological scaffolds composed of tissue-derived extracellular matrix (ECM) can promote homologous (i.e., tissue-specific) cell differentiation through preservation of biophysical and biochemical motifs found in native tissues. Solubilized ECMs derived from decellularized tendon and cartilage have recently been promoted as tissue-specific biomaterials, but whether tissue-specific bioactivity is preserved following solubilization is unknown. This study explored the tissue-specific bioactivity of soluble decellularized tendon and cartilage ECMs on human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) presented across different culture microenvironments, including two-dimensional (2D) tissue culture plastic, aligned electrospun nanofibers, cell pellets, and cell-seeded photocrosslinkable hydrogels.Tendon and cartilage ECMs were decellularized using established methods and solubilized either via pepsin digestion or urea extraction. The effect of soluble ECMs on cell proliferation and differentiation was initially explored by supplementing basal medium of human MSCs cultured on 2D tissue culture plastic. In subsequent experiments, MSCs were cultured on aligned electrospun nanofibers, ascell pellets, or encapsulated within photocrosslinkable methacrylated gelatin (GelMA) hydrogels. Urea-extracted tendon and cartilage ECMs were added as supplements.Pepsin-digested ECMs did not promote homologous differentiation in human MSCs, whether provided as a medium supplement or three-dimensional (3D) hydrogels. In contrast, urea-extracted ECMs tended to promote tissue-specific differentiation of MSCs cultured in 2D and 3D microenvironments. The application of the small molecule TGF-? signaling inhibitor SB-431542 largely negated the tissue-specific gene expression patterns mediated by tendon and cartilage ECMs. This suggests that the action of endogenous TGF-? was required, but was not sufficient, to impart tissue-specific bioactivity of urea-extracted ECMs. When urea-extracted cartilage ECM was incorporated within a photocurable GelMA hydrogel it independently enhanced chondrogenesis in encapsulated MSCs, and showed additive prochondrogenesis upon TGF-? supplementation in the medium.Urea-extracted ECM fractions of decellularized tendon and cartilage are soluble supplements capable of enhancing tissue-specific differentiation of adult stem cells.
Project description:Understanding the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in vascular morphogenesis has been possible using natural ECMs as in vitro models to study the underlying molecular mechanisms. However, little is known about vascular morphogenesis in synthetic matrices where properties can be tuned toward both the basic understanding of tubulogenesis in modular environments and as a clinically relevant alternative to natural materials for regenerative medicine. We investigated synthetic, tunable hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels and determined both the adhesion and degradation parameters that enable human endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) to form efficient vascular networks. Entrapped ECFCs underwent tubulogenesis dependent on the cellular interactions with the HA hydrogel during each stage of vascular morphogenesis. Vacuole and lumen formed through integrins ?(5)?(1) and ?(V)?(3), while branching and sprouting were enabled by HA hydrogel degradation. Vascular networks formed within HA hydrogels containing ECFCs anastomosed with the host's circulation and supported blood flow in the hydrogel after transplantation. Collectively, we show that the signaling pathways of vascular morphogenesis of ECFCs can be precisely regulated in a synthetic matrix, resulting in a functional microvasculature useful for the study of 3-dimensional vascular biology and toward a range of vascular disorders and approaches in tissue regeneration.