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Enhanced differentiation of retinal progenitor cells using microfabricated topographical cues


Due to the retina's inability to replace photoreceptors lost during retinal degeneration, significant interest has been placed in methods to implant replacement cells. Polymer scaffolds are increasingly being studied as vehicles for cellular delivery to degenerated retinas. Previously, we fabricated poly(methyl methacrylate) thin film scaffolds that increased survival and integration of implanted retinal progenitor cells (RPCs). Additionally, these scaffolds minimized the trauma and cellular response associated with implantation of foreign bodies into mouse eyes. Here, we demonstrate that biodegradable polycaprolactone (PCL) thin film scaffolds can be fabricated with integrated microtopography. Microfabricated topography in a PCL thin film enhanced the attachment and organization of RPCs compared to unstructured surfaces. Using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction we also observed that attachment to microtopography induced cellular differentiation. RPCs grown on PCL thin films exhibited an increase in gene expression for the photoreceptor markers recoverin and rhodopsin, an increase in the glial and Müller cell marker GFAP, and a decrease in SOX2 gene expression (a marker for undifferentiated progenitor cells) compared to cells grown on unmodified tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS). © 2010 The Author(s).

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