Mechanical Adaptability of the MMP-Responsive Film Improves the Functionality of Endothelial Cell Monolayer

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Extracellular matrix and cells are inherent in coordinating and adapting to each other during all physiological and pathological processes. Synthetic materials, however, show rarely reciprocal and spatiotemporal responses to cells, and lacking self-adapting properties as well. Here, a mechanical adaptability based on the matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) sensitive polyelectrolyte film is reported. Poly-lysine (PLL) and methacrylated hyaluronic acid (HA-MA) nanolayers are employed to build the thin film through the layer-by-layer assembly, and it is further crosslinked using MMP sensitive peptides, which endows the films with changeable mechanical properties in response to MMPs. It is demonstrated that stiffness of the (PLL/HA-MA) films increases with the crosslinking, and then decreases in response to a treatment of enzyme. Consequently, the crosslinked (PLL/HA-MA) films reveal effective growth of endothelial cells (ECs), leading to fast formation of EC monolayer. Importantly, significantly improved endothelial function of the EC monolayer, which is characterized by integrity, biomolecules release, expression of function related gene, and antithrombotic properties, is achieved along with the decrosslinking of the film because of EC-secreted MMPs. These results suggest that mechanical adaptability of substrate in Young's modulus plays a significant role in endothelial progression, which shows great application potential in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and organ-on-a-chip.

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