Limbal stem cells (LSCs) are already used in cell‐based treatments for ocular surface disorders. Clinical translation of LSCs‐based therapies critically depends on the successful delivery, survival, and retention of these therapeutic cells to the desired region. Such a major bottleneck could be overcome by using an appropriate carrier to provide anchoring sites and structural support to LSC culture and transplantation.
Bacterial nanocellulose (BNC) is an appealing, yet unexplored, candidate for this application because of its biocompatibility, animal‐free origin and mechanical stability. Here, BNC as a vehicle for human embryonic stem cells‐derived LSC (hESC‐LSC) are investigated. To enhance cell‐biomaterial interactions, a plasma activation followed by a Collagen IV and Laminin coating of the BNC substrates is implemented. This surface functionalization with human extracellular matrix proteins greatly improved the attachment and survival of hESC‐LSC without compromising the flexible, robust and semi‐transparent nature of the BNC. The surface characteristics of the BNC substrates are described and a preliminary ex vivo test in simulated transplantation scenarios is provided. Importantly, it is shown that hESC‐LSC retain their self‐renewal and stemness characteristics up to 21 days on BNC substrates. These results open the door for future research on hESC‐LSC/BNC constructs to treat severe ocular surface pathologies.
Bioactive materials for therapy and diagnosis
Limbal Stem Cells on Bacterial Nanocellulose Carriers for Ocular Surface Regeneration
Irene Anton‐Sales, Laura Koivusalo, Heli Skottman, Anna Laromaine, Anna Roig