Two-dimensional vs three-dimensional culture conditions, such as the presence of extracellular matrix components, could deeply influence the cell fate and properties. In this paper we investigated proliferation, differentiation, survival, apoptosis, growth and neurotrophic factor synthesis of rat embryonic stem cells (RESCs) cultured in 2D and 3D conditions generated using Cultrex® Basement Membrane Extract (BME) and in poly-(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) electrospun sub-micrometric fibres. It is demonstrated that, in the absence of other instructive stimuli, growth, differentiation and paracrine activity of RESCs are directly affected by the different microenvironment provided by the scaffold. In particular, RESCs grown on an electrospun PLLA scaffolds coated or not with BME have a higher proliferation rate, higher production of bioactive nerve growth factor (NGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) compared to standard 2D conditions, lasting for at least 2 weeks. Due to the high mechanical flexibility of PLLA electrospun scaffolds, the PLLA/stem cell culture system offers an interesting potential for implantable neural repair devices.
Keywords: Electrospinning; Embryonic stem cell; Extracellular matrix; Growth factors; Poly(lactic acid); Scaffold.