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  • Enhancing analysis of cells and proteins by fluorescence imaging on silk-based biomaterials: modulating the autofluorescence of silk.

Enhancing analysis of cells and proteins by fluorescence imaging on silk-based biomaterials: modulating the autofluorescence of silk.

Tissue engineering. Part C, Methods (2014-07-23)
Puay Yong Neo, Daryl Jian-An Tan, Pujiang Shi, Siew Lok Toh, James Cho-Hong Goh
ABSTRACT

Silk is a versatile and established biomaterial for various tissue engineering purposes. However, it also exhibits strong autofluorescence signals-thereby hindering fluorescence imaging analysis of cells and proteins on silk-derived biomaterials. Sudan Black B (SB) is a lysochrome dye commonly used to stain lipids in histology. It has also been reported to be able to quench autofluorescence of tissues in histology and has been tested on artificial biomedical polymers in recent years. It was hypothesized that SB would exert similar quenching effects on silk, modulating the autofluorescence signals, and thereby enabling improved imaging analysis of cells and molecules of interests. The quenching effect of SB on the intrinsic fluorescence properties of silk and on commercial fluorescent dyes were first investigated in this study. SB was then incorporated into typical fluorescence-based staining protocols to study its effectiveness in improving fluorescence-based imaging of the cells and proteins residing with the silk-based biomaterials. Silk processed into various forms of biomaterials (e.g., films, sponges, fibers, and electrospun mats) was seeded with cells and cultured in vitro. At sacrificial time points, specimens were harvested, fixed, and prepared for fluorescence staining. SB, available commercially as a powder, was dissolved in 70% ethanol (0.3% [w/v]) to form staining solutions. SB treatment was introduced at the last step of typical immunofluorescence staining protocols for 15-120 min. For actin staining protocols by phalloidin toxin, SB staining solutions were added before and after permeabilization with Triton-X for 15-30 min. Results showed that ideal SB treatment duration is about 15 min. Apart from being able to suppress the autofluorescence of silk, this treatment duration was also not too long to adversely affect the fluorescent labeling probes used. The relative improvement brought about by SB treatment was most evident in the blue and green emission wavelengths compared with the red emission wavelength. This study has showed that the use of SB is a cost and time effective approach to enhance fluorescence-based imaging analyses of cell-seeded silk biomaterials, which otherwise would have been hindered by the unmodulated autofluorescence signals.

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