Connective-tissue responses to defined biomaterial surfaces. I. Growth of rat fibroblast and bone marrow cell colonies on microgrooved substrates

John L. Ricci, John C. Grew, Harold Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Surface microgeometry plays a role in tissue-implant surface interactions, but our understanding of its effects is incomplete. Substrate microgrooves strongly influence cells in vitro, as evidenced by contact guidance and cell alignment. We studied "dot" colonies of primary fibroblasts and bone marrow cells that were grown on titanium-coated, microgrooved polystyrene surfaces that we designed and produced. Rat tendon fibroblast and rat bone marrow colony growth and migration varied (p < 0.01) by microgroove dimension and slightly by cell type. We observed profoundly altered morphologies, reduced growth rates, and directional growth in colonies grown on microgrooved substrates, when compared with colonies grown on flat, control surfaces (p < 0.01). The cells in our colonies grown on microgrooved surfaces were well aligned and elongated in the direction parallel to the grooves and colonies. Our "dot" colony is an easily reproduced, easily measured and artificial expiant model of tissue-implant interactions that better approximates in vivo implant responses than culturing isolated cells on biomaterials. Our results correlate well with in vivo studies of titanium dioxide-coated polystyrene, titanium, and titanium alloy implants with controlled microgeometries. Microgrooves and other surface features appear to directionally or spatially organize cells and matrix molecules in ways that contribute to improved stabilization and osseointegration of implants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-325
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2008



  • Bone marrow
  • Cell-surface interactions
  • Fibroblasts
  • In vitro
  • Microgroove

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys

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