Surface modifications with tethered growth factors have mainly been applied to synthetic polymeric biomaterials in well-controlled, acellular settings, followed by seeding with cells. The known bio-orthogonality of copper-free click chemistry provides an opportunity to not only use it in vitro to create scaffolds or pro-migratory tracks in the presence of living cells, but also potentially apply it to living tissues directly as a coupling modality in situ. In this study, we studied the chemical coupling of growth factors to collagen using biocompatible copper-free click chemistry and its effect on the enhancement of growth factor activity in vitro. We verified the characteristics of modified epidermal growth factor (EGF) using mass spectrometry and an EGF/EGF receptor binding assay, and evaluated the chemical immobilization of EGF on collagen by copper-free click chemistry using surface X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We found that the anchoring was noncytotoxic, biocompatible, and rapid. Moreover, the surface-immobilized EGF had significant effects on epithelial cell attachment and proliferation. Our results demonstrate the possibility of copper-free click chemistry as a tool for covalent bonding of growth factors to collagen in the presence of living cells. This approach is a novel and potentially clinically useful application of copper-free click chemistry as a way of anchoring growth factors to collagen and foster epithelial wound healing.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Part of this work was performed at the Stanford Nano Shared Facilities (SNSF) supported by the National Science Foundation under award ECCS-1542152. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Ali Djalilian from the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Ophthalmology for his valuable feedback about this research.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)