Nanoengineering of surfaces to modulate cell behavior : nanofabrication and the influence of nanopatterned features on the behavior of neurons and preadipocytes
Promising strategies for treating diseases and conditions like cancer, tissue necrosis from injury, congenital abnormalities, etc., involve replacing pathologic tissue with healthy tissue. Strategies devoted to the development of tissue to restore, maintain, or improve function is called tissue engineering. Engineering tissue requires three components, cells that can proliferate to form tissue, a microenvironment that nourishes the cells, and a tissue scaffold that provides mechanical stability, controls tissue architecture, and aids in mimicking the cell’s natural extracellular matrix (ECM). Currently, there is much focus on designing scaffolds that recapitulate the topology of cells’ ECM, in vivo, which undoubtedly wields structures with nanoscale dimensions. Although it is widely thought that sub-microscale features in the ECM have the greatest vii impact on cell behavior relative to larger structures, interactions between cells and nanostructures surfaces is not well understood. There have been few comprehensive studies elucidating the effects of both feature dimension and geometry on the initial formation and growth of the axons of individual neurons. Reconnecting the axons of neurons in damaged nerves is vital in restoring function. Understanding how neurons react with nanopatterned surfaces will advance development of optimal biomaterials used for reconnecting neural networks Here, we investigated the effects of micro- and nanostructures of various sizes and shape on neurons at the single cell level. Compulsory to studying interactions between cells and sub-cellular structures is having nanofabrication technologies that enable biomaterials to be patterned at the nanoscale. We also present a novel nanofabrication process, coined Flash Imprint Lithography using a Mask Aligner (FILM), used to pattern nanofeatures in UV-curable biomaterials for tissue engineering applications. Using FILM, we were able to pattern 50 nm lines in polyethylene glycol (PEG). We later used FILM to pattern nanowells in PEG to study the effect of the nanowells on the behavior preadipocytes (PAs). Results of our cell experiments with neurons and PAs suggested that incorporating micro- and nanoscale topography on biomaterial surfaces may enhance biomaterials’ ability to constrain cell development. Moreover, we found the FILM process to be a useful fabrication tool for tissue engineering applications.