Lactose and heparin were covalently coupled to poly(chloromethyl styrene) and the modified polymer was used as a substrate for rat hepatocyte culture. Lactose and heparin are recognized by rat hepatocytes and can be used to mediate cell attachment to the substrate. Rat hepatocytes cultured in serum-free media on these substrates were able to maintain enzymes and peptides important in the detoxification functions of hepatocytes, without the addition of hormones such as dexamethasone, media additives such as DMSO, or complex biological extracellular factors.
The growing interest in large-scale cell culture and in tissue engineering requires substrates of different geometries. Therefore, we have fabricated the derivatized polymers into microcarriers and, most recently, foams. These three-dimensional structures, combined with the chemistries of the polymers, provided the hepatocytes with more cell-cell interactions and in vivo-like geometries than conventional flat-dish culture.