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Keywords:

  • cellular microenvironment;
  • dynamic co-culture;
  • parylene-C stencils;
  • cell patterning

Abstract

Co-culturing different cell types can be useful to engineer a more in vivo-like microenvironment for cells in culture. Recent approaches to generating cellular co-cultures have used microfabrication technologies to regulate the degree of cell–cell contact between different cell types. However, these approaches are often limited to the co-culture of only two cell types in static cultures. The dynamic aspect of cell–cell interaction, however, is a key regulator of many biological processes such as early development, stem cell differentiation, and tissue regeneration. In this study, we describe a micropatterning technique based on microfabricated multilayer parylene-C stencils and demonstrate the potential of parylene-C technology for co-patterning of proteins and cells with the ability to generate a series of at least five temporally controlled patterned co-cultures. We generated dynamic co-cultures of murine embryonic stem cells in culture with various secondary cell types that could be sequentially introduced and removed from the co-cultures. Our studies suggested that dynamic co-cultures generated by using parylene-C stencils may be applicable in studies investigating cellular interactions in controlled microenvironments such as studies of ES cell differentiation, wound healing and development. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res, 2008