Study of epithelial cells on polypyrrole based conducting polymers using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy
Polypyrrole (PPy) is a conjugated polymer that displays special electronic properties including conductivity. It may be electrogenerated with the incorporation of any anionic species including negatively charged biological molecules such as proteins and polysaccharides. For this thesis, variously loaded-PPy films were prepared on gold sputter-coated coverslips. The growth and characteristics of epithelial cells, namely keratinocytes, were studied on these films by microscopy, biochemical assay, immunocytochemistry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Keratinocyte viability was found to be PPy-load dependent. For chloride, polyvinyl sulphate, dermatan sulphate and collagen-loaded PPy films, polycarbonate and gold, keratinocyte viability, as assessed by the AlamarBlueTM assay, was respectively 47%, 60%, 88% and 23%, 75% and 61% of tissue culture polystyrene controls after 5 days. This was found to require a previously unreported polymer washing step prior to cell seeding due to the observed toxicity of untreated films. Keratinocytes stained positive for proliferation (PCNA), suprabasal differentiation (K10) and hyperproliferation (K16) markers although cell morphology was poor for organotypical cultures on dermatanloaded PPy compared with de-epidermalised dermis. Cell-induced impedance changes were detected in a three-electrode format over PPy modified electrodes. Results obtained showed the effects of cell density, cell type and monitoring frequencies. In particular, it was seen that lower cell densities could be detected on PPy compared to unmodified gold electrodes. Keratinocyte confluence as determined by impedimetric analysis was reached more rapidly on PPy than bare gold in agreement with AlamarBlueTM measurements. Electrical equivalent circuit analysis using parameters whose contributions may be directly mapped to intracellular and intercellular spaces, and membrane components suggested that the technique can be extended to cell morphology discrimination. This work shows that PPy biocomposites are attractive candidates for tissue engineering applications since they may incorporate biomolecules and are electrically addressable with the potential to both direct and report on cell activities.