Secretion of recombinant proteins from hydroxyethyl methacrylate-methyl methacrylate capsules
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Current human gene therapy relies on genetic modification of the patient's own cells. An alternate nonautologous approach is to use universal cell lines engineered to secrete therapeutic products. Protection with immunoisolation devices before implantation would allow the use of the same recombinant cell line for treating different patients, thus potentially lowering the cost of treatment. To study the properties of a mechanically stable synthetic biomaterial, hydroxyethyl methyacrylate-methyl methacrylate (HEMA-MMA) as the immuno-isolation device, we encapsulated recombinant mouse fibroblast cells engineered to secrete products ranging from 27 to 300 kDa in size (human growth hormone, mouse beta-hexosaminidase and beta-glucuronidase) in the presence or absence of the extracellular matrix Matrigel. Both viability and cell number in the microcapsules increased with time after encapsulation and cell morphology indicated viable cell growth, thus showing that the capsule membrane barrier was compatible with nutrient/waste exchange necessary for normal metabolic activity.The intracellular levels of these recombinant gene products were constant throughout the experimental period of 22 days in the presence or absence of Matrigel, thus demonstrating that the microenvironment did not lead to downregulation of the transgenes. However, the extracellular levels of the gene products secreted from the cells and trapped within the microcapsules were dependent on the molecular size of the product and presence of Matrigel. With the 27-kDa human growth hormone, the presence of Matrigel caused its retention within this intracapsular space, but its release from the microcapsules to the culture medium was not impeded. With the 120-kDa beta-hexosaminidase or the 300-kDa beta-glucuronidase, they were retained within the microcapsule space regardless of the presence or absence of Matrigel, and their passage from the microcapsules to the media was totally blocked. In conclusion, the HEMA-MMA microcapsules are supportive of recombinant cell growth and maintained their molecular cutoff at approximately 100 kDa. Inclusion of extracellular matrix was unable to improve cell growth and may impede the exit of some gene products.
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