Cell-Imprinted Substrates Modulate Differentiation, Redifferentiation, and Transdifferentiation
Differentiation of stem cells into mature cells through the use of physical approaches is of great interest. Here, we prepared smart nanoenvironments by cell-imprinted substrates based on chondrocytes, tenocytes, and semifibroblasts as templates and demonstrated their potential for differentiation, redifferentiation, and transdifferentiation. Analysis of shape and upregulation/downregulation of specific genes of stem cells, which were seeded on these cell-imprinted substrates, confirmed that imprinted substrates have the capability to induce specific shapes and molecular characteristics of the cell types that were used as templates for cell-imprinting. Interestingly, immunofluorescent staining of a specific protein in chondrocytes (i.e., collagen type II) confirmed that adipose-derived stem cells, semifibroblasts, and tenocytes can acquire the chondrocyte phenotype after a 14 day culture on chondrocyte-imprinted substrates. In summary, we propose that common polystyrene tissue culture plates can be replaced by this imprinting technique as an effective and promising way to regulate any cell phenotype in vitro with significant potential applications in regenerative medicine and cell-based therapies.