Biocompatibility of synthetic poly(ester urethane)/polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane matrices with embryonic stem cell proliferation and differentiation
Incorporation of polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxanes (POSS) into poly(ester urethanes) (PEU) as a building block results in a PEU/POSS hybrid polymer with increased mechanical strength and thermostability. An attractive feature of the new polymer is that it forms a porous matrix when cast in the form of a thin film, making it potentially useful in tissue engineering. In this study, we present detailed microscopic analysis of the PEU/POSS matrix and demonstrate its biocompatibility with cell culture. The PEU/POSS polymer forms a continuous porous matrix with open pores and interconnected grooves. From SEM image analysis, it is calculated that there are about 950 pores/mm(2) of the matrix area with pore diameter size in the range 1-15 mu m. The area occupied by the pores represents approximately 7.6% of the matrix area. Using mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs), we demonstrate that the PEU/POSS matrix provides excellent support for cell proliferation and differentiation. Under the cell culture condition optimized to maintain self-renewal, ESCs grown on a PEU/POSS matrix exhibit undifferentiated morphology, express pluripotency markers and have a similar growth rate to cells grown on gelatin. When induced for differentiation, ESCs underwent dramatic morphological change, characterized by the loss of clonogenecity and increased cell size, with well-expanded cytoskeleton networks. Differentiated cells are able to form a continuous monolayer that is closely embedded in the matrix. The excellent compatibility between the PEU/POSS matrix and ESC proliferation/differentiation demonstrates the potential of using PEU/POSS polymers in future ESC-based tissue engineering. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.