Guidance of mesenchymal stem cells on fibronectin structured hydrogel films
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Designing of implant surfaces using a suitable ligand for cell adhesion to stimulate specific biological responses of stem cells will boost the application of regenerative implants. For example, materials that facilitate rapid and guided migration of stem cells would promote tissue regeneration. When seeded on fibronectin (FN) that was homogeneously immmobilized to NCO-sP(EO-stat-PO), which otherwise prevents protein binding and cell adhesion, human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) revealed a faster migration, increased spreading and a more rapid organization of different cellular components for cell adhesion on fibronectin than on a glass surface. To further explore, how a structural organization of FN controls the behavior of MSC, adhesive lines of FN with varying width between 10 µm and 80 µm and spacings between 5 µm and 20 µm that did not allow cell adhesion were generated. In dependance on both line width and gaps, cells formed adjacent cell contacts, were individually organized in lines, or bridged the lines. With decreasing sizes of FN lines, speed and directionality of cell migration increased, which correlated with organization of the actin cytoskeleton, size and shape of the nuclei as well as of focal adhesions. Together, defined FN lines and gaps enabled a fine tuning of the structural organization of cellular components and migration. Microstructured adhesive substrates can mimic the extracellular matrix in vivo and stimulate cellular mechanisms which play a role in tissue regeneration.