In the past decade, tissue engineering has become a great interest in materials science research. Embryonic stem (ES) cell transplantation has become one of the most researched therapies for restoring tissue and organ function. Many studies have investigated the use of porous biodegradable scaffolds to promote cell adhesion, growth, proliferation, differentiation, and to help steer the course of tissue development. Research has shown that extracellular matrices and the basement membranes affect various cell types and cellular behaviors. However, the effects of these materials on ES cell behavior are currently understudied and poorly understood.
In this study, the synthetic biodegradable polymer polycaprolactone (PCL) was chosen to create an interconnected, fibrous foam structure. A phase separated scaffold method was developed and the product made was coated with various extracellular materials. When the phase separated PCL scaffolds were coated with Matrigel and gelatin solutions, murine ES (mES) cells attached, spread, and differentiated within the scaffolds. There was little growth on the uncoated material. Coating effects on mES cells were analyzed using flow cytometry, reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and scanning electron microscopy. It was found that coating the scaffold with different extracellular matrices affects mES cell morphology and differentiation. Matrigel coating causes expression of neural proteins and gelatin produces a hepatocyte-like cell.