α-Helical peptides on plasma-treated polymers promote ciliation of airway epithelial cells

Nazia Mehrban*, D A Scott, Dek N Woolfson, Christopher Callaghan, et al.

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Airway respiratory epithelium forms a physical barrier through intercellular tight junctions, which prevents debris from passing through to the internal environment while ciliated epithelial cells expel particulate-trapping mucus up the airway. Polymeric solutions to loss of airway structure and integrity have been unable to fully restore functional epithelium. We hypothesised that plasma treatment of polymers would permit adsorption of α-helical peptides and that this would promote functional differentiation of airway epithelial cells. Five candidate plasma compositions are compared; Air, N2, H2, H2:N2 and Air:N2. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy shows changes in at% N and C 1s peaks after plasma treatment while electron microscopy indicates successful adsorption of hydrogelating self-assembling fibres (hSAF) on all samples. Subsequently, adsorbed hSAFs support human nasal epithelial cell attachment and proliferation and induce differentiation at an air-liquid interface. Transepithelial measurements show that the cells form tight junctions and produce cilia beating at the normal expected frequency of 10–11 Hz after 28 days in culture. The synthetic peptide system described in this study offers potential superiority as an epithelial regeneration substrate over present “gold-standard” materials, such as collagen, as they are controllable and can be chemically functionalised to support a variety of in vivo environments. Using the hSAF peptides described here in combination with plasma-treated polymeric surfaces could offer a way of improving the functionality and integration of implantable polymers for aerodigestive tract reconstruction and regeneration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111935
Pages (from-to)111935
Number of pages11
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Volume122
Early online date5 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

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