Publications by authors named "Shane C Allen"

7 Publications

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A Model for Studying the Biomechanical Effects of Varying Ratios of Collagen Types I and III on Cardiomyocytes.

Cardiovasc Eng Technol 2021 Jan 11. Epub 2021 Jan 11.

Inspired Materials & Stem-Cell Based Tissue Engineering Laboratory (IMSTEL), El Paso, USA.

Purpose: To develop a novel model composed solely of Col I and Col III with the lower and upper limits set to include the ratios of Col I and Col III at 3:1 and 9:1 in which the structural and mechanical behavior of the resident CM can be studied. Further, the progression of fibrosis due to change in ratios of Col I:Col III was tested.

Methods: Collagen gels with varying Col I:Col III ratios to represent a healthy (3:1) and diseased myocardial tissue were prepared by manually casting them in wells. Absorbance assay was performed to confirm the gelation of the gels. Rheometric analysis was performed on each of the collagen gels prepared to determine the varying stiffnesses and rheological parameters of the gels made with varying ratios of Col I:Col III. Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) was performed to observe the 3D characterization of the collagen samples. Scanning Electron microscopy was used for acquiring cross sectional images of the lyophilized collagen gels. AC16 CM (human) cell lines were cultured in the prepared gels to study cell morphology and behavior as a result of the varying collagen ratios. Cellular proliferation was studied by performing a Cell Trace Violet Assay and the applied force on each cell was measured by means of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) on CM from each sample.

Results: Second harmonic generation microscopy used to image Col I, displayed a decrease in acquired image intensity with an increase in the non-second harmonic Col III in 3:1 gels. SEM showed a fiber-rich structure in the 3:1 gels with well-distributed pores unlike the 9:1 gels or the 1:0 controls. Rheological analysis showed a decrease in substrate stiffness with an increase of Col III, in comparison with other cases. CM cultured within 3:1 gels exhibited an elongated rod-like morphology with an average end-to-end length of 86 ± 28.8 µm characteristic of healthy CM, accompanied by higher cell growth in comparison with other cases. Finite element analysis used to estimate the forces exerted on CM cultured in the 3:1 gels, showed that the forces were well dispersed, and not concentrated within the center of cells, in comparison with other cases.

Conclusion: This study model can be adopted to simulate various biomechanical environments in which cells crosstalk with the Collagen-matrix in diseased pathologies to generate insights on strategies for prevention of fibrosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13239-020-00514-7DOI Listing
January 2021

Dynamic extracellular matrix stiffening induces a phenotypic transformation and a migratory shift in epithelial cells.

Integr Biol (Camb) 2020 06;12(6):161-174

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA.

Soft tissue tumors, including breast cancer, become stiffer throughout disease progression. This increase in stiffness has been shown to correlate to malignant phenotype and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in vitro. Unlike current models, utilizing static increases in matrix stiffness, our group has previously created a system that allows for dynamic stiffening of an alginate-matrigel composite hydrogel to mirror the native dynamic process. Here, we utilize this system to evaluate the role of matrix stiffness on EMT and metastasis both in vitro and in vivo. Epithelial cells were seen to lose normal morphology and become protrusive and migratory after stiffening. This shift corresponded to a loss of epithelial markers and gain of mesenchymal markers in both the cell clusters and migrated cells. Furthermore, stiffening in a murine model reduced tumor burden and increased migratory behavior prior to tumor formation. Inhibition of FAK and PI3K in vitro abrogated the morphologic and migratory transformation of epithelial cell clusters. This work demonstrates the key role extracellular matrix stiffening has in tumor progression through integrin signaling and, in particular, its ability to drive EMT-related changes and metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/intbio/zyaa012DOI Listing
June 2020

A Visible Light-Cross-Linkable, Fibrin-Gelatin-Based Bioprinted Construct with Human Cardiomyocytes and Fibroblasts.

ACS Biomater Sci Eng 2019 Sep 1;5(9):4551-4563. Epub 2019 Aug 1.

Inspired Materials & Stem-Cell Based Tissue Engineering Laboratory (IMSTEL), Department of Metallurgical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering, M201 Metallurgy Building, United States.

In this study, fibrin was added to a photo-polymerizable gelatin-based bioink mixture to fabricate cardiac cell-laden constructs seeded with human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPS-CM) or CM cell lines with cardiac fibroblasts (CF). The extensive use of platelet-rich fibrin, its capacity to offer patient specificity, and the similarity in composition to surgical glue prompted us to include fibrin in the existing bioink composition. The cell-laden bioprinted constructs were cross-linked to retain a herringbone pattern via a two-step procedure including the visible light cross-linking of furfuryl-gelatin followed by the chemical cross-linking of fibrinogen via thrombin and calcium chloride. The printed constructs revealed an extremely porous, networked structure that afforded long-term in vitro stability. Cardiomyocytes printed within the sheet structure showed excellent viability, proliferation, and expression of the troponin I cardiac marker. We extended the utility of this fibrin-gelatin bioink toward coculturing and coupling of CM and cardiac fibroblasts (CF), the interaction of which is extremely important for maintenance of normal physiology of the cardiac wall in vivo. This enhanced "cardiac construct" can be used for drug cytotoxicity screening or unraveling triggers for heart diseases in vitro.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsbiomaterials.9b00505DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7117097PMC
September 2019

Phenotypic Basis for Matrix Stiffness-Dependent Chemoresistance of Breast Cancer Cells to Doxorubicin.

Front Oncol 2018 5;8:337. Epub 2018 Sep 5.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States.

The persistence of drug resistant cell populations following chemotherapeutic treatment is a significant challenge in the clinical management of cancer. Resistant subpopulations arise via both cell intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms. Extrinsic factors in the microenvironment, including neighboring cells, glycosaminoglycans, and fibrous proteins impact therapy response. Elevated levels of extracellular fibrous proteins are associated with tumor progression and cause the surrounding tissue to stiffen through changes in structure and composition of the extracellular matrix (ECM). We sought to determine how this progressively stiffening microenvironment affects the sensitivity of breast cancer cells to chemotherapeutic treatment. MDA-MB-231 triple negative breast carcinoma cells cultured in a 3D alginate-based hydrogel system displayed a stiffness-dependent response to the chemotherapeutic doxorubicin. MCF7 breast carcinoma cells cultured in the same conditions did not exhibit this stiffness-dependent resistance to the drug. This differential therapeutic response was coordinated with nuclear translocation of YAP, a marker of mesenchymal differentiation. The stiffness-dependent response was lost when cells were transferred from 3D to monolayer cultures, suggesting that endpoint ECM conditions largely govern the response to doxorubicin. To further examine this response, we utilized a platform capable of dynamic ECM stiffness modulation to allow for a change in matrix stiffness over time. We found that MDA-MB-231 cells have a stiffness-dependent resistance to doxorubicin and that duration of exposure to ECM stiffness is sufficient to modulate this response. These results indicate the need for additional tools to integrate mechanical stiffness with therapeutic response and inform decisions for more effective use of chemotherapeutics in the clinic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2018.00337DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134055PMC
September 2018

The applicability of furfuryl-gelatin as a novel bioink for tissue engineering applications.

J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater 2019 02 15;107(2):314-323. Epub 2018 Apr 15.

Inspired Materials & Stem-Cell Based Tissue Engineering Laboratory (IMSTEL), Department of Metallurgical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas, 79968.

Three-dimensional bioprinting is an innovative technique in tissue engineering, to create layer-by-layer structures, required for mimicking body tissues. However, synthetic bioinks do not generally possess high printability and biocompatibility at the same time. So, there is an urgent need for naturally derived bioinks that can exhibit such optimized properties. We used furfuryl-gelatin as a novel, visible-light crosslinkable bioink for fabricating cell-laden structures with high viability. Hyaluronic acid was added as a viscosity enhancer and either Rose Bengal or Riboflavin was used as a visible-light crosslinker. Crosslinking was done by exposing the printed structure for 2.5 min to visible light and confirmed using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and rheometry. Scanning electron microscopy revealed a highly porous networked structure. Three different cell types were successfully bioprinted within these constructs. Mouse mesenchymal stem cells printed within monolayer and bilayer sheets showed viability, network formation and proliferation (∼5.33 times) within 72 h of culture. C2C12 and STO cells were used to print a double layered structure, which showed evidence of the viability of both cells and heterocellular clusters within the construct. This furfuryl-gelatin based bioink can be used for tissue engineering of complex tissues and help in understanding how cellular crosstalk happens in vivo during normal or diseased pathology. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater, 107B: 314-323, 2019.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbm.b.34123DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6188846PMC
February 2019

Extracellular Matrix Stiffening Induces a Malignant Phenotypic Transition in Breast Epithelial Cells.

Cell Mol Bioeng 2017 Feb 19;10(1):114-123. Epub 2016 Oct 19.

1Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, USA.

Tumors are much stiffer than healthy tissue, and progressively stiffen as the cancer develops. Tumor stiffening is largely the result of extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, for example, deposition and crosslinking of collagen I. Well established models have demonstrated the influence of the microenvironment in regulating tissue homeostasis, with matrix stiffness being a particularly influential mediator. Non-malignant MCF10A mammary epithelial cells (MECs) lose their epithelial characteristics and become invasive when cultured in stiff microenvironments, leading to the hypothesis that tumor stiffening could contribute directly to disease progression. However, previous studies demonstrating MCF10A invasion have been performed in gels with constant mechanical properties, unlike the dynamically stiffening tumor microenvironment. Here, we employ a temporally stiffening hydrogel platform to demonstrate that matrix stiffening induces invasion from and proliferation in MCF10A mammary acini. After allowing MCF10A acini to form in soft hydrogels for 14 days, the gels were stiffened to the level of a malignant tumor, giving rise to a proliferative and invasive phenotype. Cells were observed to collectively migrate away from mammary acini while maintaining cell-cell contacts. Small molecule inhibition of PI3K and Rac1 pathways was sufficient to significantly reduce the number and size of invasive acini after stiffening. Our results demonstrate that temporal matrix stiffening can induce invasion from mammary acini and supports the notion that tumor stiffening could be implicated in disease progression and metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12195-016-0468-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6816676PMC
February 2017

Dynamic phototuning of 3D hydrogel stiffness.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015 Feb 2;112(7):1953-8. Epub 2015 Feb 2.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712

Hydrogels are widely used as in vitro culture models to mimic 3D cellular microenvironments. The stiffness of the extracellular matrix is known to influence cell phenotype, inspiring work toward unraveling the role of stiffness on cell behavior using hydrogels. However, in many biological processes such as embryonic development, wound healing, and tumorigenesis, the microenvironment is highly dynamic, leading to changes in matrix stiffness over a broad range of timescales. To recapitulate dynamic microenvironments, a hydrogel with temporally tunable stiffness is needed. Here, we present a system in which alginate gel stiffness can be temporally modulated by light-triggered release of calcium or a chelator from liposomes. Others have shown softening via photodegradation or stiffening via secondary cross-linking; however, our system is capable of both dynamic stiffening and softening. Dynamic modulation of stiffness can be induced at least 14 d after gelation and can be spatially controlled to produce gradients and patterns. We use this system to investigate the regulation of fibroblast morphology by stiffness in both nondegradable gels and gels with degradable elements. Interestingly, stiffening inhibits fibroblast spreading through either mesenchymal or amoeboid migration modes. We demonstrate this technology can be translated in vivo by using deeply penetrating near-infrared light for transdermal stiffness modulation, enabling external control of gel stiffness. Temporal modulation of hydrogel stiffness is a powerful tool that will enable investigation of the role that dynamic microenvironments play in biological processes both in vitro and in well-controlled in vivo experiments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1421897112DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4343123PMC
February 2015