Thermoresponsive microgel coatings as versatile functional compounds for novel cell manipulation tools
For the effective use of live cells in biomedicine as in vitro test systems or in biotechnology, non-invasive cell processing and characterisation are key elements. Thermoresponsive polymer coatings have been demonstrated to be highly beneficial for controlling the interaction of adherent cells through their cultivation support. However, the widespread application of these coatings is hampered by limitations in their adaptability to different cell types and because the full range of applications has not yet been fully explored. In the work presented here, we address these issues by focusing on three different aspects. With regard to the first aspect, by using well-defined laminar flow in a microchannel, a highly controllable and reproducible shear force can be applied to adherent cells. Employing this tool, we demonstrate that cells can be non-invasively detached from a support using a defined shear flow. The second aspect relates to the recent development of simple methods for patterning thermoresponsive coatings. Here, we show how such patterned coatings can be used for improving the handling and reliability of a wound-healing assay. Two pattern geometries are tested using mouse fibroblasts and CHO cells. In terms of the third aspect, the adhesiveness of cells depends on the cell type. Standard thermoresponsive coatings are not functional for all types of cells. By coadsorbing charged nanoparticles and thermoresponsive microgels, it is demonstrated that the adhesion and detachment behaviour of cells on such coatings can be modulated.