2010 年 130 巻 4 号 p. 565-574
The white of an egg, rendered opaque by boiling, can be converted into a thin, transparent and rigid material like glass by evaporating the moisture. This phenomenon is known as the vitrification of heat-denatured proteins. We applied vitrification technology to a collagen gel and converted it into a rigid glass-like material. We attempted to rehydrate the glass-like material and succeeded in preparing a novel stable state of collagen gel that was a thin and transparent membrane with excellent gel strength and protein permeability. We called it “collagen vitrigel” because it was produced from the vitrification process of a traditional hydrogel. Further, a framework-embedded collagen vitrigel membrane that can be easily turned inside out with tweezers was prepared by inserting a nylon membrane ring in the collagen sol prior to the gelation, thereby allowing the membrane to function as a removable cell culture substratum. Different types of anchorage-dependent cells could be cultured on both surfaces of the substratum by the manipulation of two-dimensional cultures, and consequently a three-dimensional crosstalk model with paracrine effects from each cell type was reconstructed. Also, the collagen vitrigel membrane containing a bioactive molecule provided a drug delivery system (DDS) with sustainable release. In this review, we summarize the recent progress of applied studies using the collagen vitrigel membrane as follows: a corneal model for eye irritant and permeability tests, a skin model for sensitization test, a renal glomerular model for evaluating blood filtration, an endometrial model for developing a new treatment and a DDS of hepatocyte growth factor for improving liver disorder.