Combinatorial Methods for the Prediction of Cellular Differentiation in Polymer Scaffolds


Marvi A. Matos, Marcus Cicerone

Biomaterials Group, Polymers Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg , MD




In the U.S. there are approximately 450,000 diagnosed cases of spinal cord injuries. The functional insufficiency of the spinal cord is related to the damaged tissue, the interruption of signal pathways and the inability of mammalian cells in the central nervous system to regenerate and repair tissue defects. A promising approach for tissue regeneration is the transplantation of neural stem cells in engineered polymeric matrices used as cellular scaffolds which can sustain and promote biochemical mass transfer and cell proliferation. Predictable in-vivo stem cell differentiation however, has not yet been achieved in part due to the lack of realistic in-vitro models. This project deals with the systematic characterization of neural stem cell differentiation of a mouse model under applied ac electrical fields using a combinatorial approach. The stem cells are encapsulated in alginate sub-millimeter beads that are crosslinked in a calcium chloride solution. The beads are placed in a custom made electrolytic cell in which we apply a non-uniform ac electric field for two weeks. Preliminary studies reveal that cell viability is not compromised by the alginate encapsulation or the application of low electrical potentials. They also show that the alginate beads tend to burst over time and that bursting is significantly higher under relatively higher electric field regions. We are currently investigating the effects of the electric field in neural stem cell differentiation through immunostaining techniques. The hypothesis is that the application of ac electric fields could potentially trigger neural stem cell differentiation. These in-vitro models could impact the understanding of differentiation mechanisms as well as the potential for electrical stimuli for therapeutic purposes.



*This article, a contribution of National Institute of Standards and Technology, is not subject to US copyright.


Authorís information


Name:††††††††††††† Marvi A. Matos

Mentor: †††††††††† Marcus Cicerone

Division:†††††††††† Polymers Division, MSEL

Laboratory:††††† Material Science and Engineering Laboratory

Location†††††††††† Room A111, Building 224, Mail Stop 8543
Phone: 301-975-6803
Fax: †††††††††††††††† 301-975-4977


Sigma Xi:††††††††† Not a member

Category: ††††††† Biotechnology