Stiffness of extracellular matrix components modulates the phenotype of human smooth muscle cells in vitro and allows for the control of properties of engineered tissues

Sara B.H. Timraz, Rachid Rezgui, Selwa M. Boularaoui, Jeremy C.M. Teo

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

Abstract

Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) play a significant role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. 2D cultures elucidated valuable information about the interaction between SMCs and extracellular matrix (ECM) components. However, 3D constructs better represent the native vascular environment. Furthermore, a limited number of studies addressed the effect of ECM stiffness on SMCs phenotype. We investigated the effect of stiffness of different ECM substrates by modulating their concentrations, including the effect on morphology, proliferation, expression of the contractile protein α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and deposition of collagen type I (Col I) and collagen type III (Col III) proteins. At low concentrations of Col I gels and Col I gels supplemented with 10% fibronectin (Fn), SMCs exhibited non-elongated, 'hill-and-valley' shape and large mean cellular area, indicating a hypertrophic morphology, characteristic of the synthetic phenotype. However, with increasing concentration, mean cellular area and proliferation relative to cells cultured in 2D dropped. Whole protein secretion into the culture media and deposition of Col I and Col III generally decreased with increasing stiffness. Moreover, percentage of α-SMA+ SMCs decreased with increasing gel concentration, pointing to a shift towards the synthetic phenotype. Supplementing Col I with 10% Laminin (Ln) maintained higher cellular area and aspect ratio at all gel concentrations and did not change α-SMA expression significantly, compared to Col I alone or Col I + Fn. Overall, these results demonstrate that ECM components and stiffness could provide the tools to modulate the phenotype and function of SMCs in vitro, which allows for the control of properties of engineered tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalProcedia Engineering
Volume110
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015
Event4th International Conference on Tissue Engineering - An ECCOMAS Thematic Conference, ICTE 2015 - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: Jun 25 2015Jun 27 2015

Keywords

  • Collagen type I
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Smooth muscle cells
  • Stiffness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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