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Protein Adsorption Alters Hydrophobic Surfaces Used for Suspension Culture of Pluripotent Stem Cells

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This Letter examines the physical and chemical changes that occur at the interface of methyl-terminated alkanethiol self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) after exposure to cell culture media used to derive embryoid bodies (EBs) from pluripotent stem cells. Attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy analysis of the SAMs indicates that protein components within the EB cell culture medium preferentially adsorb at the hydrophobic interface. In addition, we examined the adsorption process using surface plasmon resonance and atomic force microscopy. These studies identify the formation of a porous, mat-like adsorbed protein film with an approximate thickness of 2.5 nm. Captive bubble contact angle analysis reveals a shift toward superhydrophilic wetting behavior at the cell culture interface due to adsorption of these proteins. These results show how EBs are able to remain in suspension when derived on hydrophobic materials, which carries implications for the rational design of suspension culture interfaces for lineage specific stem-cell differentiation.

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