3 years ago

Deciphering the Role of Sulfonated Unit in Heparin-Mimicking Polymer to Promote Neural Differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells

Deciphering the Role of Sulfonated Unit in Heparin-Mimicking Polymer to Promote Neural Differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells
Hongwei Wang, Lin Yuan, Mengmeng Wang, Zhonglin Lyu, Yuqi Yuan, Jiehua Lei, Qi Liu, Hong Chen
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), especially heparin and heparan sulfate (HS), hold great potential for inducing the neural differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and have brought new hope for the treatment of neurological diseases. However, the disadvantages of natural heparin/HS, such as difficulty in isolating them with a sufficient amount, highly heterogeneous structure, and the risk of immune responses, have limited their further therapeutic applications. Thus, there is a great demand for stable, controllable, and well-defined synthetic alternatives of heparin/HS with more effective biological functions. In this study, based upon a previously proposed unit-recombination strategy, several heparin-mimicking polymers were synthesized by integrating glucosamine-like 2-methacrylamido glucopyranose monomers (MAG) with three sulfonated units in different structural forms, and their effects on cell proliferation, the pluripotency, and the differentiation of ESCs were carefully studied. The results showed that all the copolymers had good cytocompatibility and displayed much better bioactivity in promoting the neural differentiation of ESCs as compared to natural heparin; copolymers with different sulfonated units exhibited different levels of promoting ability; among them, copolymer with 3-sulfopropyl acrylate (SPA) as a sulfonated unit was the most potent in promoting the neural differentiation of ESCs; the promoting effect is dependent on the molecular weight and concentration of P(MAG-co-SPA), with the highest levels occurring at the intermediate molecular weight and concentration. These results clearly demonstrated that the sulfonated unit in the copolymers played an important role in determining the promoting effect on ESCs’ neural differentiation; SPA was identified as the most potent sulfonated unit for copolymer with the strongest promoting ability. The possible reason for sulfonated unit structure as a vital factor influencing the ability of the copolymers may be attributed to the difference in electrostatic and steric hindrance effect. The synthetic heparin-mimicking polymers obtained here can offer an effective alternative to heparin/HS and have great therapeutic potential for nervous system diseases.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsami.7b08034

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b08034

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