Extracellular matrix (ECM) derived from whole organ decellularization has been successfully used in a variety of tissue engineering applications. ECM contains a complex mixture of functional and structural molecules that are ideally suited for the tissue from which the ECM is harvested. However, decellularization disrupts the structural properties and protein composition of the ECM, which may impact function when cells such as the fibroblast are reintroduced during recellularization. We hypothesized that the ECM structure and composition, fibroblast source, and integrin expression would influence the fibroblast phenotype. Human cardiac fibroblasts (HCFs) and normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLFs) were cultured on intact cardiac ECM, collagen gels, and coatings composed of cardiac ECM, lung ECM, and individual ECM components (collagen and fibronectin [FN]) for 48 h. COL1A expression of HCFs and NHLFs cultured on ECM and FN coatings decreased to <50% of that of untreated cells; COL1A expression for HCFs cultured on ECM coatings was one- to twofold higher than HCFs cultured on intact ECM. NHLFs cultured on ECM and FN coatings expressed 12- to 31-fold more alpha-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) than HCFs; the αSMA expression for HCFs and NHLFs cultured on ECM coatings was ∼2- to 5-fold higher than HCFs and NHLFs cultured on intact ECM. HCFs expressed significantly higher levels of β3 and β4 integrins when compared to NHLFs. Inhibition of the β3 integrin, but not β4, resulted in a 16- to 26-fold increase in αSMA expression in HCFs cultured on ECM coatings and FN. Our results demonstrate that β3 integrin expression depends on the source of the fibroblast and that its expression inhibits αSMA expression (and thus the myofibroblast phenotype). We conclude that the fibroblast source and integrin expression play important roles in regulating the fibroblast phenotype.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering