, Volume 339, Issue 1, pp 131-153
Date: 07 Nov 2009

Nanoscale engineering of biomimetic surfaces: cues from the extracellular matrix

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The ultimate goal in the design of biomimetic materials for use in tissue engineering as permanent or resorbable tissue implants is to generate biocompatible scaffolds with appropriate biomechanical and chemical properties to allow the adhesion, ingrowth, and survival of cells. Recent efforts have therefore focused on the construction and modification of biomimetic surfaces targeted to support tissue-specific cell functions including adhesion, growth, differentiation, motility, and the expression of tissue-specific genes. Four decades of extensive research on the structure and biological influence of the extracellular matrix (ECM) on cell behavior and cell fate have shown that three types of information from the ECM are relevant for the design of biomimetic surfaces: (1) physical properties (elasticity, stiffness, resilience of the cellular environment), (2) specific chemical signals from peptide epitopes contained in a wide variety of extracelluar matrix molecules, and (3) the nanoscale topography of microenvironmental adhesive sites. Initial physical and chemical approaches aimed at improving the adhesiveness of biomaterial surfaces by sandblasting, particle coating, or etching have been supplemented by attempts to increase the bioactivity of biomaterials by coating them with ECM macromolecules, such as fibronectin, elastin, laminin, and collagens, or their integrin-binding epitopes including RGD, YIGSR, and GFOGER. Recently, the development of new nanotechnologies such as photo- or electron-beam nanolithography, polymer demixing, nano-imprinting, compression molding, or the generation of TiO2 nanotubes of defined diameters (15–200 nm), has opened up the possibility of constructing biomimetic surfaces with a defined nanopattern, eliciting tissue-specific cellular responses by stimulating integrin clustering. This development has provided new input into the design of novel biomaterials. The new technologies allowing the construction of a geometrically defined microenvironment for cells at the nanoscale should facilitate the investigation of nanotopography-dependent mechanisms of integrin-mediated cell signaling.

We thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for financial support of our work on TiO2 nanotubes (DFG grants MA534/20-1, MA534/24-1, SCHM 1597/9-1; see Figs. 3, 4, 5).