Physical patterns represent potential surface cues for promoting osteogenic differentiation of stem cells and improving osseointegration of orthopedic implants. Understanding the early cell–surface interactions and their effects on late cellular functions is essential for a rational design of such topographies, yet still elusive. In this work, fluidic force microscopy (FluidFM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) combined with optical and electron microscopy are used to quantitatively investigate the interaction of preosteoblasts with 3D-printed patterns after 4 and 24 h of culture. The patterns consist of pillars with the same diameter (200 nm) and interspace (700 nm) but distinct heights (500 and 1000 nm) and osteogenic properties. FluidFM reveals a higher cell adhesion strength after 24 h of culture on the taller pillars (32 ± 7 kPa versus 21.5 ± 12.5 kPa). This is associated with attachment of cells partly on the sidewalls of these pillars, thus requiring larger normal forces for detachment. Furthermore, the higher resistance to shear forces observed for these cells indicates an enhanced anchorage and can be related to the persistence and stability of lamellipodia. The study explains the differential cell adhesion behavior induced by different pillar heights, enabling advancements in the rational design of osteogenic patterns.
- atomic force microscopy (AFM)
- cell adhesion
- cell biophysics
- fluidic force microscopy (FluidFM)
- submicron pillars