Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are capable of differentiating into any cell type and provide significant advances to cell therapy and regenerative medicine. However, the current protocol for hiPSC generation is relatively inefficient and often results in many partially reprogrammed colonies, which increases the cost and reduces the applicability of hiPSCs. Biophysical stimulation, in particular from tuning cell-surface interactions, can trigger specific cellular responses that could in turn promote the reprogramming process. In this study, human fibroblasts were reprogrammed into hiPSCs using a feeder-free system and episomal vectors using novel substrates based on binary colloidal crystals (BCCs). BCCs are made from two different spherical particle materials (Si and PMMA) ranging in size from nanometers to micrometers that self-assemble into hexagonal close-packed arrays. Our results show that the BCCs, particularly those made from a crystal of 2 μm Si and 0.11 μm PMMA particles (2SiPM) facilitate the reprogramming process and increase the proportion of fully reprogrammed hiPSC colonies, even without a vitronectin coating. Subsequent isolation of clonal hiPSC lines demonstrates that they express pluripotent markers (OCT4 and TRA-1-60). This proof-of-concept study demonstrates that cell reprogramming can be improved on substrates where surface properties are tailored to the application.
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