Thermoresponsive PNIPAM Coatings on Nanostructured Gratings for Cell Alignment and Release

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Thermoresponsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) has been widely used as a surface coating to thermally control the detachment of adsorbed cells without the need for extreme stimuli such as enzyme treatment. Recently, the use of 2D and 3D scaffolds in controlling cell positioning, growth, spreading, and migration has been of a great interest in tissue engineering and cell biology. Here, we use a PNIPAM polymer surface coating atop a nanostructured linear diffraction grating to controllably change the surface topography of 2D linear structures using temperature stimuli. Neutron reflectometry and surface diffraction are utilized to examine the conformity of the polymer coating to the grating surface, its hydration profile, and its evolution in response to temperature variations. The results show that, in the collapsed state, the PNIPAM coating conforms to the grating structures and retains a uniform hydration of 63%. In the swollen state, the polymer expands beyond the grating channels and absorbs up to 87% water. Such properties are particularly desirable for 2D cell growth scaffolds with a built-in nonextreme tissue-release mechanism. Indeed, the current system demonstrates advanced performance in the effective alignment of cultured fibroblast cells and the easy release of the cells upon temperature change.

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ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, v. 7, issue 22, p. 11857-11862