Human Adventitial Fibroblast Phenotype Depends on the Progression of Changes in Substrate Stiffness

TitleHuman Adventitial Fibroblast Phenotype Depends on the Progression of Changes in Substrate Stiffness
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsScott, R. A., Robinson K. G., Kiick K. L., & Akins R. E.
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
Date Published2020 Feb 27
KeywordsCollagen; Cytokine; fibroblast phenotypes; Hydrogels; mechanical history

Adventitial fibroblasts (AFs) are major contributors to vascular remodeling and maladaptive cascades associated with arterial disease, where AFs both contribute to and respond to alterations in their surrounding matrix. The relationships between matrix modulus and human aortic AF (AoAF) function are investigated using poly(ethylene glycol)-based hydrogels designed with matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-sensitive and integrin-binding peptides. Initial equilibrium shear storage moduli for the substrates examined are 0.33, 1.42, and 2.90 kPa; after 42 days of culture, all hydrogels exhibit similar storage moduli (0.3-0.7 kPa) regardless of initial modulus, with encapsulated AoAFs spreading and proliferating. In 10 and 7.5 wt% hydrogels, modulus decreases monotonically throughout culture; however, in 5 wt% hydrogels, modulus increases after an initial 7 days of culture, accompanied by an increase in myofibroblast transdifferentiation and expression of collagen I and III through day 28. Thereafter, significant reductions in both collagens occur, with increased MMP-9 and decreased tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1/-2 production. Releasing cytoskeletal tension or inhibiting cellular protein secretion in 5 wt% hydrogels block the stiffening of the polymer matrix. Results indicate that encapsulated AoAFs initiate cell-mediated matrix remodeling and demonstrate the utility of dynamic 3D systems to elucidate the complex interactions between cell behavior and substrate properties.

Alternate JournalAdv Healthc Mater
Refereed DesignationRefereed