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In vitro characterization of micropatterned PLGA-PHBV8 blend films as temporary scaffolds for photoreceptor cells

In developed countries the aging population faces increasing risks of blinding retinal diseases, for which there are few effective treatments available. Photoreceptor transplantation represents one approach, but generally results have been disappointing. We hypothesize that micropatterned biodegradable poly(L-lactic acid-co-glycolic acid) /poly(hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvaleric acid) (PLGA-PHBV8) blend films could deliver photoreceptor cells in a more organized manner than bolus injections. Blending of PLGA and PHBV8 was used to optimize the degradation rate of the temporary template. At the end of 8 weeks, for both thin and thick films of PLGA-PHBV8 a 50% decrease of their initial weight with increasing water uptake was observed. When photoreceptor cells were seeded onto micropatterned PLGA-PHBV8 films with parallel grooves (21- and 42-mu m-wide grooves and 20 mu m ridge width and depth), the cells preferred laminin-deposited grooves to ridges and expressed rod- and cone-specific markers such as rhodopsin and arrestin. A loss in photoreceptor viability of 50% was observed after 7 days in culture. The effects of either retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)-derived or Muller glial cell-derived conditioned media or bFGF on the survival of photoreceptor cells seeded on PLGA-PHBV8 films were investigated. Addition of either RPE- and Muller-conditioned media increased statistically (p < 0.01) the viability of photoreceptor cells after 7 days of incubation. Our results suggest that such biodegradable micropatterned PLGA-PHBV8 blend films have a potential to deliver photoreceptor cells to the subretinal space and ensure laminar organization and maintenance of differentiation, and that incorporation of intrinsic factors within the scaffold would enhance the survival rate of transplanted cells. (C) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.