A Drug-Induced Hybrid Electrospun Poly-Capro-Lactone: Cell-Derived Extracellular Matrix Scaffold for Liver Tissue Engineering

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Liver transplant is the only treatment option for patients with end-stage liver failure, however, there are too few donor livers available for transplant. Whole organ tissue engineering presents a potential solution to the problem of rapidly escalating donor liver shortages worldwide. A major challenge for liver tissue engineers is the creation of a hepatocyte microenvironment; a niche in which liver cells can survive and function optimally. While polymers and decellularized tissues pose an attractive option for scaffold manufacturing, neither alone has thus far proved sufficient. This study exploited cell's native extracellular matrix (ECM) producing capabilities using two different histone deacetylase inhibitors, and combined these with the customizability and reproducibility of electrospun polymer scaffolds to produce a "best of both worlds" niche microenvironment for hepatocytes. The resulting hybrid poly-capro-lactone (PCL)-ECM scaffolds were validated using HepG2 hepatocytes. The hybrid PCL-ECM scaffolds maintained hepatocyte growth and function, as evidenced by metabolic activity and DNA quantitation. Mechanical testing revealed little significant difference between scaffolds, indicating that cells were responding to a biochemical and topographical profile rather than mechanical changes. Immunohistochemistry showed that the biochemical profile of the drug-derived and nondrug-derived ECMs differed in ratio of Collagen I, Laminin, and Fibronectin. Furthermore, the hybrid PCL-ECM scaffolds influence the gene expression profile of the HepG2s drastically; with expression of Albumin, Cytochrome P450 Family 1 Subfamily A Polypeptide 1, Cytochrome P450 Family 1 Subfamily A Polypeptide 2, Cytochrome P450 Family 3 Subfamily A Polypeptide 4, Fibronectin, Collagen I, and Collagen IV undergoing significant changes. Our results demonstrate that drug-induced hybrid PCL-ECM scaffolds provide a viable, translatable platform for creating a niche microenvironment for hepatocytes, supporting in vivo phenotype and function. These scaffolds offer great potential for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine strategies for whole organ tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTissue Engineering Part A
Issue number13-14
Early online date24 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • liver tissue engineering
  • electrospun scaffolds
  • acellular biological matrices
  • drug induced
  • 3D liver cell culture


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