2021 journal article
Dermal Extracellular Matrix-Derived Hydrogels as an In Vitro Substrate to Study Mast Cell Maturation
TISSUE ENGINEERING PART A, 27(15-16), 1008–1022.
Mast cells (MCs) are pro-inflammatory tissue-resident immune cells that play a key role in inflammation. MCs circulate in peripheral blood as progenitors and undergo terminal differentiation in the tissue microenvironment where they can remain for many years. This in situ maturation results in tissue- and species-specific MC phenotypes, culminating in significant variability in response to environmental stimuli. There are many challenges associated with studying mature tissue-derived MCs, particularly in humans. In cases where cultured MCs are able to differentiate in two-dimensional in vitro cultures, there remains an inability for full maturation. Extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds provide for a more physiologically relevant environment for cells in vitro and have been shown to modulate the response of other immune cells such as T cells, monocytes, and macrophages. To improve current in vitro testing platforms of MCs and to assess future use of ECM scaffolds for MC regulation, we studied the in vitro response of human MCs cultured on decellularized porcine dermis hydrogels (dermis extracellular matrix hydrogel [dECM-H]). This study investigated the effect of dECM-H on cellular metabolic activity, cell viability, and receptor expression compared to collagen type I hydrogel (Collagen-H). Human MCs showed different metabolic activity when cultured in the dECM-H and also upregulated immunoglobulin E (IgE) receptors associated with MC maturation/activation compared to collagen type I. These results suggest an overall benefit in the long-term culture of human MCs in the dECM-H compared to Collagen-H providing important steps toward a model that is more representative of in vivo conditions. Mast cells (MCs) are difficult to culture in vitro as current culture conditions and substrates fail to promote similar phenotypic features observed in vivo. Extracellular matrix (ECM)-based biomaterials offer three-dimensional, tissue-specific environments that more closely resemble in vivo conditions. Our study explores the use of dermal ECM hydrogels for MC culture and shows significant upregulation of metabolic activity, cell viability, and gene expression of markers associated with MC maturation or activation compared to collagen type I-hydrogel and tissue culture plastic controls at 7 days. These results are among the first to describe MC behavior in response to ECM hydrogels.