Currently, it is unknown how the mechanical properties of electrospun fibers, and the presentation of surface nanotopography influence macrophage gene expression and protein production. By further elucidating how specific fiber properties (mechanical properties or surface properties) alter macrophage behavior, it may be possible to create electrospun fiber scaffolds capable of initiating unique cellular and tissue responses. In this study, we determined the elastic modulus and rigidity of fibers with varying topographies created by finely controlling humidity and including a non-solvent during electrospinning. In total,five fiber scaffold types were produced. Analysis of fiber physical properties demonstrated no change in fiber diameter amongst the five different fiber groups. However, the four different fibrous scaffolds with nanopits or divots each possessed different numbers of pits with different nanoscale dimensions. Unpolarized bone marrow derived murine macrophages (M0), macrophages polarized towards a pro-inflammatory phenotype (M1), or macrophages polarized towards anti-inflammatory phenotype (M2b) were placed onto each of the scaffolds and cytokine RNA expression and protein production were analyzed. Specific nanotopographies did not appreciably alter cytokine production from undifferentiated macrophages (M0) or anti-inflammatory macrophages (M2b), but a specific fiber (with many small pits) did increase IL-12 transcript and IL-12 protein production compared to fibers with small divots. When analyzing the mechanical properties between fibers with divots or with many small pits,divoted fibers possessed similar elastic moduli but different stiffness values. In total,we present techniques capable of creating unique electrospun fibers. These unique fibers have varying fiber mechanical characteristics and modestly modulate macrophage cytokine expression.
Keywords: Electrospun fibers; macrophage polarization; mechanical characteristics; surface topography.