CHAPTER 15: Smart Cell Culture for Tissue Engineering
Published:03 May 2017
In vitro cell culture plays a critical role in tissue engineering. It acts as the transitional step during which isolated cells are converted into a synthetic tissue for implantation. The biomaterial substrate on which cells are grown in vitro dictates the structure and aspects of the function of the tissue that is produced. Gaining precise control over the characteristics of culture substrates is therefore critical to the progression of tissue engineering. Smart materials provide automated control over biomaterial properties at scales ranging from the tissue to the molecular level. This chapter outlines some of the major applications of smart cell culture, i.e. the application of smart materials to in vitro tissue culture. We concentrate on the modulation of cell adhesion, which is by far the most ubiquitous role for smart materials in tissue culture. In particular, we discuss thermo-responsive, electro-responsive and pH-responsive materials; describing their synthesis, mechanism of action and applications. In addition, we cover methods by which smart materials have been employed to modulate the cell culture environment including mass transport, mechanical properties, and even the relative positions of the cells themselves. Incorporating smart materials into cell culture substrates opens a new realm of possibilities for tissue engineering.