3D-Printed Submicron Patterns Reveal the Interrelation between Cell Adhesion, Cell Mechanics, and Osteogenesis

Mahdiyeh Nouri-Goushki, Livia Angeloni, Khashayar Modaresifar, Michelle Minneboo, Pouyan E. Boukany, Mohammad J. Mirzaali, Murali K. Ghatkesar, Lidy E. Fratila-Apachitei*, Amir A. Zadpoor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


The surface topography of implantable devices is of crucial importance for guiding the cascade of events that starts from the initial contact of the cells with the surface and continues until the complete integration of the device in its immediate environment. There is, however, limited quantitative information available regarding the relationships between the different stages of such cascade(s) and how the design of surface topography influences them. We, therefore, used direct laser writing to 3D-print submicron pillars with precisely controlled dimensions and spatial arrangements to perform a systematic study of such relationships. Using single-cell force spectroscopy, we measured the adhesion force and the work of adhesion of the preosteoblast cells residing on the different types of surfaces. Not only the adhesion parameters (after 2-60 s) but also the formation of focal adhesions was strongly dependent on the geometry and arrangement of the pillars: sufficiently tall and dense pillars enhanced both adhesion parameters and the formation of focal adhesions. Our morphological study of the cells (after 24 h) showed that those enhancements were associated with a specific way of cell settlement onto the surface (i.e., "top state"). The cells interacting with tall and dense pillars were also characterized by numerous thick actin stress fibers in the perinuclear region and possibly high internal stresses. Furthermore, living cells with highly organized cytoskeletal networks exhibited greater values of the elastic modulus. The early responses of the cells predicted their late response including matrix mineralization: tall and dense submicron pillars significantly upregulated the expression of osteopontin after 21 days of culture under both osteogenic and nonosteogenic conditions. Our findings paint a detailed picture of at least one possible cascade of events that starts from initial cell adhesion and continues to subsequent cellular functions and eventual matrix mineralization. These observations could inform the future developments of instructive surfaces for medical devices based on physical surface cues and early markers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33767-33781
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • biomaterials
  • cell adhesion
  • cell mechanics
  • osteogenic response
  • surface patterns


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