Vitronectin-based, biomimetic encapsulating hydrogel scaffolds support adipogenesis of adipose stem cells
Soft tissue defects are relatively common, yet currently used reconstructive treatments have varying success rates, and serious potential complications such as unpredictable volume loss and reabsorption. Human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs), isolated from liposuction aspirate have great potential for use in soft tissue regeneration, especially when combined with a supportive scaffold. To design scaffolds that promote differentiation of these cells down an adipogenic lineage, we characterized changes in the surrounding extracellular environment during adipogenic differentiation. We found expression changes in both extra-cellular matrix (ECM) proteins, including increases in expression of collagen-IV and vitronectin, as well as changes in the integrin expression profile, with an increase in expression of integrins such as αVβ5 and α1β1. These integrins are known to specifically interact with vitronectin and collagen-IV, respectively, through binding to an Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) sequence. When three different short RGD containing peptides were incorporated into 3D hydrogel cultures it was found that an RGD containing peptide derived from vitronectin provided strong initial attachment, maintained the desired morphology and created optimal conditions for in vitro 3D adipogenic differentiation of ASCs. These results describe a simple, nontoxic encapsulating scaffold, capable of supporting the survival and desired differentiation of ASCs for the treatment of soft tissue defects.