The differentiation of progenitor cells is dependent on more than biochemical signalling. Topographical cues in natural bone extracellular matrix guide cellular differentiation through the formation of focal adhesions, contact guidance, cytoskeletal rearrangement and ultimately gene expression. Osteoarthritis and a number of bone disorders present as growing challenges for our society. Hence, there is a need for next generation implantable devices to substitute for, or guide, bone repair in vivo. Cellular responses to nanometric topographical cues need to be better understood in vitro in order to ensure the effective and efficient integration and performance of these orthopedic devices. In this study, the FDA-approved plastic polycaprolactone was embossed with nanometric grooves and the response of primary and immortalized osteoprogenitor cells observed. Nanometric groove dimensions were 240 nm or 540 nm deep and 12.5 μm wide. Cells cultured on test surfaces followed contact guidance along the length of groove edges, elongated along their major axis and showed nuclear distortion; they formed more focal complexes and lower proportions of mature adhesions relative to planar controls. Down-regulation of the osteoblast marker genes RUNX2 and BMPR2 in primary and immortalized cells was observed on grooved substrates. Down-regulation appeared to directly correlate with focal adhesion maturation, indicating the involvement of ERK 1/2 negative feedback pathways following integrin-mediated FAK activation.
Cassidy, John W., Jemma N. Roberts, Carol-Anne Smith, Mary Robertson, Kate White, Manus J. Biggs, Richard O. C. Oreffo, Matthew J. Dalby