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Authors Chen X, Thibeault SL
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Journal Tissue Eng Part A Volume: 18 Issue: 23-24 Pages: 2528-38
Publish Date 2012 Dec
PubMed ID 22734649
PMC ID 3501119

Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), an important cytokine with multiple functions, is secreted during wound healing. Previous studies have utilized two-dimensional (2D) cell culture to elucidate the functions of TGF-β1; however, 2D culture does not represent the complex three-dimensional (3D) in vivo environment. Using a synthetic hyaluronan (HA) extracellular matrix (ECM) hydrogel, we investigated the effect of TGF-β1 on fibroblasts cultured in three conditions—on tissue culture polystyrene (TCP), on HA (2D), and in HA (3D). After TGF-β1 treatment (0.1 to 20 ng/mL), morphological features and ECM regulation were analyzed by immunocytochemistry, Western blot, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and zymogram assays. On TCP, cells showed the typical spindle shape with strong alpha smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) staining of cytoplasmic myofilaments along the cell axes after TGF-β1 treatment; on HA (2D), spindle-shape cells showed little α-SMA staining; in HA (3D), cells were smaller and rounded with less α-SMA deposition. The α-SMA gene and protein expression on TCP were significantly upregulated by TGF-β1, but TGF-β1 did not induce α-SMA expression in the presence of HA (both 2D and 3D). 3D HA culture significantly downregulated collagen I, III, and fibronectin expression, increased matrix metalloproteinase 1 and 2 (MMP1/MMP2) activity, upregulated MMP1 mRNA and downregulated TIMP3 mRNA expression. This study suggested that exogenous HA, particularly in 3D culture, appears to suppress ECM production, enhances ECM degradation and remodeling, and inhibits myofibroblast differentiation without decreasing TGF-β receptor expression.

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