It has previously been mentioned on this blog that one of the main challenges facing the tissue engineering field is recreating the three dimensional nature of the extracellular matrix. Numerous matrices and biomaterials have been tested for their use in generating functional tissues and organs, such as perfusion-decellularized whole organs. However, most have shown limited survival in vivo. As a key component of the ECM, fibronectin contributes to both the structural integrity as well as the functional properties of live tissues. Fibronectin promotes the binding of cells through its binding domain RGD sequence, which acts as a cellular ligand. Studies have shown (Roy et al., Tissue Engineering A, 2011, 19(3):558) that fibronectin-coated scaffold mimetics promoted cell adhesion and collagen I deposition into the newly formed ECM, and found a three-fold increase in cell proliferation in response to fibronectin. Moreover, the study found that fibronectin scaffolds are capable of directing matrix assembly by mesenchymal stem cells when cultured inside those matrices.
Furthermore, improved attachment of mesenchymal stem cells and differentiation into osteoblasts when cultured in fibronectin-coated dishes as compared to albumin-coated dishes was also reported in a recent study by Ogura et al. (Journal of Oral Science, 2004, 46(4):207-213). The improvement in cell attachment was as much as two-fold higher for fibronectin.
These studies suggest that improved ECM matrices with the use of fibronectin can lead to improved tissue engineered constructs, and open up exciting avenues of research in the field. Because engineering functional tissue is highly substrate specific, mimicking cellular ECM with proteins such as fibronectin is a promising approach.
Akron’s highly purified human-plasma derived fibronectin, available me in research and GMP grade, can help spearhead these investigations. Contact us for more information.