Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) have beneficial effects in cell transplantation therapy; these cells are collected from adipose tissue using low-invasive methods. However, to prepare ADSCs for cell therapy, a cell separation method that neither involves modification of the cell surface nor causes loss of cell activity is needed. Here, we aimed to develop ADSC separation columns using thermoresponsive cationic block copolymer brush-grafted beads as packing materials. The block copolymer brush was formed by a bottom cationic segment, poly(N,N-dimethylaminopropylacrylamide) (PDMAPAAm), and an upper thermoresponsive segment, poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm), and was grafted in two atom transfer radical polymerization reactions. The copolymer brush-grafted silica beads were packed into a column. An ADSC suspension was introduced into the columns at 37 °C and adsorbed on the copolymer brush-modified beads through electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions with the PDMAPAAm and PNIPAAm segments, respectively. The adsorbed ADSCs eluted from the column by lowering the temperature to 4 °C. In contrast, most Jurkat and vascular endothelial cells eluted at 37 °C, because of the relatively weaker electrostatic interactions with the block copolymer brush compared to ADSCs. Using the prepared column, a mixture of ADSCs and Jurkat cells was separated by changing the column temperature. The recovered ADSCs exhibited cell activity. The developed cell separation column may be useful for isolating ADSCs without cell surface modification, while maintaining cell activity.
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