Microbial transglutaminase (mTGase) is an enzyme that introduces a covalent bond between peptide bound glutamine and lysine residues. Proteins cross-linked in this manner are often more resistant to proteolytic degradation and show increased tensile strength. This study evaluates the effects of mTGase mediated cross-linking of collagen on the cellular morphology, behaviour and viability of murine 3T3 fibroblasts following their seeding into collagen scaffolds. Additionally, cell mediated scaffold contraction, porosity and level of cross-linking of the scaffold has been analysed using image analysis software, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), colorimetric assays, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). We demonstrate that the biocompatibility and cellular morphology, when comparing cultures of fibroblasts integrated in mTGase cross-linked collagen scaffolds with the native collagen counterparts, remained unaffected. It has been also elicited that the structural characteristics of collagen have been preserved while introducing enzymatically resistant covalent bonds.
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This experimental work has been funded by The Irish Higher Education Authority’s Programme for Research in third Level Institutions, Enterprise Ireland Research Innovation Fund and EPSRC (grant reference GR/S21755/02). Special thanks are due to Damien O’Halloran and Michael Ball for all the help provided in the laboratory work and Afshin Samali and Eva Szegezdi for their valuable comments on apoptosis evaluation.