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Imaging Cells on Polymer Spherulites



Carl G. Simon Jr.


Polymers are one of the many materials used to fabricate tissue engineered medical products (Ratner et al., 1996). Polymer processing methods, such as how monomers are converted to polymers or how polymers are formed into products, can drastically affect the polymer properties which can affect how cells respond to the material. For instance, poly(L-lactide) (PLLA) is a crystalline, biodegradable polymer that is commonly used for tissue engineering applications. When PLLA is melted [heat above melting temperature (Tm)] and annealed [held at temperature between glass transition (Tg) and Tm for several hours], the polymer chains crystallize into spherulites and the presence of these spherulites inhibits cell proliferation (Park and Cima, 1996). Thus, cell behavior on a polymer-derived tissue engineered medical product can be influenced heat-treating the product.In order to help characterize cell response to polymer crystallinity, epifluorescence microscopy and polarized light microscopy have been combined to yield a simple and unique method for imaging cells on spherulites. Polarized light microscopy was used to image polymer spherulites, which are birefringent, and fluorescence microscopy was used to image cells that had been fluorescently stained.
Journal of Microscopy-Oxford
216(Pt 2)


biomaterial, birefringence, fluorescence microscopy, osteoblast, poly(lactic acid), polymer, spherulite, thin film, tissue engineering


Simon, C. (2004), Imaging Cells on Polymer Spherulites, Journal of Microscopy-Oxford, [online], (Accessed June 22, 2024)


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Created January 1, 2004, Updated February 17, 2017