Ultra-fast laser microprocessing of medical polymers for cell engineering applications
Picosecond laser micromachining technology (PLM) has been employed as a tool for the fabrication of 3D structured substrates.
These substrates have been used as supports in the in vitro study of the effect of substrate topography on cell behavior. Different micropatterns were PLM-generated on polystyrene (PS) and poly-L-lactide (PLLA) and employed to study cellular proliferation and morphology of breast cancer cells. The laser-induced microstructures included parallel lines of comparable width to that of a single cell (which in this case is roughly 20 μm), and the fabrication of square-like compartments of a much larger area than a single cell (250.000 μm2). The results obtained from this in vitro study showed that though the laser treatment altered substrate roughness, it did not noticeably affect the adhesion and proliferation of the breast cancer cells. However, pattern direction directly affected cell proliferation, leading to a guided growth of cell clusters along the pattern direction. When cultured in square-like compartments, cells remained confined inside these for eleven incubation days. According to these results, laser micromachining with ultra-short laser pulses is a suitable method to directly modify the cell microenvironment in order to induce a predefined cellular behavior and to study the effect of the physical microenvironment on cell proliferation.