Mechanical Engineering Faculty Research

Construction of 3D Micropatterned Surfaces with Wormlike and Superhydrophilic PEG Brushes To Detect Dysfunctional Cells

Jianwen Hou
Qiang Shi
Wei Ye
Qunfu Fan
Hengchong Shi
Shing-Chung Wong, University of Akron Main Campus
Xiaodong Xu
Jinghua Yin


Detection of dysfunctional and apoptotic cells plays an important role in clinical diagnosis and therapy. To develop a portable and user-friendly platform for dysfunctional and aging cell detection, we present a facile method to construct 3D patterns on the surface of styrene-b-(ethylene-co-butylene)-b-styrene elastomer (SEBS) with poly(ethylene glycol) brushes. Normal red blood cells (RBCs) and lysed RBCs (dysfunctional cells) are used as model cells. The strategy is based on the fact that poly(ethylene glycol) brushes tend to interact with phosphatidylserine, which is in the inner leaflet of normal cell membranes but becomes exposed in abnormal or apoptotic cell membranes. We demonstrate that varied patterned surfaces can be obtained by selectively patterning atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) initiators on the SEBS surface via an aqueous-based method and growing PEG brushes through surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization. The relatively high initiator density and polymerization temperature facilitate formation of PEG brushes in high density, which gives brushes worm-like morphology and superhydrophilic property; the tendency of dysfunctional cells adhered on the patterned surfaces is completely different from well-defined arrays of normal cells on the patterned surfaces, providing a facile method to detect dysfunctional cells effectively. The PEG-patterned surfaces are also applicable to detect apoptotic HeLa cells. The simplicity and easy handling of the described technique shows the potential application in microdiagnostic devices.