Non-ionic highly permeable polymer shells for the encapsulation of living cells
Carter, Jessica L.
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In this study, we introduce novel, truly non-ionic hydrogen-bonded layer-by-layer (LbL) coatings for cell surface engineering capable of long-term support of cell function. Utilizing the LbL technique imparts the ability to tailor membrane permeability, which is of particular importance for encapsulation of living cells as cell viability critically depends on the diffusion of nutrients through the artificial polymer membrane. Ultrathin, permeable polymer membranes are constructed on living cells without a cationic pre-layer, which is usually employed to increase the stability of LbL coatings. In the absence of the cytotoxic PEI pre-layer, viability of encapsulated cells drastically increases to 94%, as compared to 20-50% in electrostatically-bonded shells. Engineering surfaces of living cells with natural or synthetic compounds can mediate intercellular communication, render the cells less sensitive to environmental changes, and provide a protective barrier from hostile agents. Surface engineered cells show great potential for biomedical applications, including biomimetics, biosensing, enhancing biocompatibility of implantable materials, and may represent an important step toward construction of an artificial cell.