Plasma surface engineering to biofunctionalise polymers for β-cell adhesion
Tran C., Hallahan N., Kosobrodova E., Tong J., Thorn P., Bilek M.
Implant devices containing insulin-secreting β-cells hold great promise for the treatment of diabetes. Using in vitro cell culture, long-term function and viability are enhanced when β-cells are cultured with extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Here, our goal is to engineer a favorable environment within implant devices, where ECM proteins are stably immobilized on polymer scaffolds, to better support β-cell adhesion. Four different polymer candidates (low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polystyrene (PS), polyethersulfone (PES) and polysulfone (PSU)) were treated using plasma immersion ion implantation (PIII) to enable the covalent attachment of laminin on their surfaces. Surface characterisation analysis shows the increased hydrophilicity, polar groups and radical density on all polymers after the treatment. Among the four polymers, PIII-treated LDPE has the highest water contact angle and the lowest radical density which correlate well with the non-significant protein binding improvement observed after 2 months of storage. The study found that the radical density created by PIII treatment of aromatic polymers was higher than that created by the treatment of aliphatic polymers. The higher radical density significantly improves laminin attachment to aromatic polymers, making them better substrates for β-cell adhesion.