Keratocyte behavior in three-dimensional photopolymerizable poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels

Nerea Garagorri, Sara Fermanian, Richard Thibault, Winnette Mc Intosh Ambrose, Oliver D. Schein, Shukti Chakravarti, Jennifer Elisseeff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to evaluate three-dimensional (3-D) poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels as a culture system for studying corneal keratocytes. Bovine keratocytes were subcultured in DMEM/F-12 containing 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) through passage 5. Primary keratocytes (P0) and corneal fibroblasts from passages 1 (P1) and 3 (P3) were photoencapsulated at various cell concentrations in PEG hydrogels via brief exposure to light. Additional hydrogels contained adhesive YRGDS and nonadhesive YRDGS peptides. Hydrogel constructs were cultured in DMEM/F-12 with 10% FBS for 2 and 4 weeks. Cell viability was assessed by DNA quantification and vital staining. Biglycan, type I collagen, type III collagen, keratocan and lumican expression were determined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Deposition of type I collagen, type III collagen and keratan sulfate (KS)-containing matrix components was visualized using confocal microscopy. Keratocytes in a monolayer lost their stellate morphology and keratocan expression, displayed elongated cell bodies, and up-regulated biglycan, type I collagen and type III collagen characteristic of corneal fibroblasts. Encapsulated keratocytes remained viable for 4 weeks with spherical morphologies. Hydrogels supported production of KS, type I collagen and type III collagen matrix components. PEG-based hydrogels can support keratocyte viability and matrix production. 3-D hydrogel culture can stabilize but not restore the keratocyte phenotype. This novel application of PEG hydrogels has potential use in the study of corneal keratocytes in a 3-D environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1139-1147
Number of pages9
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Cornea
  • Keratocytes
  • PEG
  • Scaffold
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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