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Readily Adsorbable Thermoresponsive Polymers for the Preparation of Smart Cell-Culturing Surfaces on Site

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journal contribution
posted on 21.08.2020, 18:03 by Mattia Sponchioni, Nicolò Manfredini, Arianna Zanoni, Ernesto Scibona, Massimo Morbidelli, Davide Moscatelli
The efficacy of several cell therapy products is directly impacted by trypsinization, which can diminish the engrafting capacity of transplanted cells by cleaving cell surface receptors. Thermoresponsive surfaces can alleviate this drawback, enabling temperature-driven and enzyme-free cell harvesting. However, the production of thermoresponsive surfaces relies on dedicated and complex equipment, often involving protocols dependent on high surface activation energies that prevent the development of scalable and universal platforms. In this work, we developed thermoresponsive copolymers incorporating styrene units that enable the copolymer adsorption on tissue culture polystyrene surfaces from an alcoholic solution in a short time, regardless of the vessel size and geometry, and without any particular equipment. In this way, the procedure can be performed with minimal effort by the end user on any surface. The thermoresponsive copolymers were synthesized via reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer polymerization, providing high control over the polymer microstructure, a key parameter for tuning its cloud point and architecture. Block copolymers comprising a thermoresponsive segment and a polystyrene block exhibited optimal adhesion on conventional cell culture surfaces and permitted a more efficient temperature-mediated harvesting of adipose-derived stromal cells and Chinese hamster ovary cells compared to their statistical counterparts. To expand the application of this polymer deposition protocol to serum-free cell culture, we also considered the polymer modification with the tripeptide arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, known to promote the cell adhesion to synthetic substrates. The incorporation of this peptide enabled the collection in serum-free conditions of intact cell sheets from surfaces prepared shortly before their usage.