doi:10.1038/nindia.2012.82 Published online 4 June 2012
Researchers have created artificial human liver tissues in the lab through an artificial extracellular matrix (ECM) which mimics the architecture of naturally occurring ECM and its biochemical composition.
ECM is a natural network of intricate nanofibers composed of proteins and proteoglycans. To mimic its architecture, Naresh Kasoju and Utpal Bora of Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati used the 'electrospinning' (e-spinning) method. In this they subjected a polymer solution to high voltage electricity resulting in the formation of a nanofibrous network. To mimic the proteins and proteoglycanic components of ECM, they chose silk fibroin (SF) and galactosylated chitosan (GalCS) respectively.
By optimising the process parameters, they obtained smooth, continuous and homogenous nanofibrous nonwoven structures. "We evaluated its functionality by culturing human liver cells and found that the cell viability and proliferation was significantly higher on e-spun SF-GalCS scaffold than on SF-alone and GalCS-alone e-spun scaffolds," says one of the researchers Naresh Kasoju.
The e-spun SF–GalCS scaffold tries to mimic both architectural and biochemical features of natural ECM and hence could be an appropriate scaffold for in vitro engineering of hepatic tissues, he adds.