Implant-associated inflammation is a major cause for the reduced performance/lifetime and failure of numerous medical devices. Therefore, the ability to non-invasively and quantitatively monitor implant-associated inflammation is critically important. Here we show that implant-associated inflammation can be imaged via fluorescence imaging using near-infrared hydrocyanine dyes delivered either locally or intravenously in living mice. This imaging strategy allowed quantitative longitudinal monitoring of inflammation by detecting reactive oxygen species (ROS) released by inflammatory cells in response to implanted poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) disks or injected poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microparticles, and exhibited a strong correlation to conventional analysis of inflammation. Furthermore, modulation of inflammatory responses via controlled release of the anti-inflammatory agent dexamethasone was detected using this sensitive imaging approach. Thus, hydrocyanine-based fluorescence imaging of ROS could serve as a surrogate measure for monitoring implant-associated inflammation as well as evaluating the efficacy of therapeutic approaches to modulate host responses to implanted medical devices.
Biocompatibility; Foreign body response; Inflammation; Free radical; Superoxide
Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) side-chain functionalized lactide analogues have been synthesized in four steps from commercially available L-lactide. The key step in the synthesis is the 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition between PEG-azides and a highly strained spirolactide-heptene monomer, which proceeds in high conversions. The PEG-grafted lactides analogues were polymerized via ring-opening polymerization using triazacyclodecene as organocatalyst to give well-defined tri- and hepta-(ethylene glycol)-poly(lactide)s (PLA) with molecular weights above 10 kDa and polydispersity indices between 1.6 and 2.1. PEG-poly(lactide) (PLA) with PEG chain Mn 2000 was also prepared but GPC analysis showed a bimodal profile indicating the presence of starting macromonomer. Cell adhesion assays were performed using MC3T3 E-1 osteoblast-like cells demonstrating that PEG-containing PLA reduces cell adhesion significantly when compared to unfunctionalized PLA.
Poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) is the choice of material for a wide range of bio- and non-biological applications because of its chemical inertness, non-toxicity, ease of handling, and commercial availability. However, PDMS exhibits uncontrolled protein adsorption and cell adhesion, and it has proven difficult to functionalize to present bioactive ligands. We present a facile strategy for functional surface modification of PDMS using commercial reagents to engineer polymer brushes of oligo(ethylene glycol) methacrylate that prevent cell adhesion and can be functionalized to display bioadhesive ligands. The polymer brushes resist biofouling and prevent cell adhesion, and bioadhesive peptides can be tethered either uniformly or constrained to micropatterned domains using standard peptide chemistry approaches. This approach is relevant to various biomedical and biotechnological applications.
deformable substrate; fibronectin; cell mechanics; focal adhesion
Actin-myosin contractility modulates focal adhesion assembly, stress fiber formation, and cell migration. We analyzed the contributions of contractility to fibroblast adhesion strengthening using a hydrodynamic adhesion assay and micropatterned substrates to control cell shape and adhesive area. Serum addition resulted in adhesion strengthening to levels 30–40% higher than serum-free cultures. Inhibition of myosin light chain kinase or Rho-kinase blocked phosphorylation of myosin light chain to similar extents and eliminated the serum-induced enhancements in strengthening. Blebbistatin-induced inhibition of myosin II reduced serum-induced adhesion strength to similar levels as those obtained by blocking myosin light chain phosphorylation. Reductions in adhesion strengthening by inhibitors of contractility correlated with loss of vinculin and talin from focal adhesions without changes in integrin binding. In vinculin-null cells, inhibition of contractility did not alter adhesive force, whereas controls displayed a 20% reduction in adhesion strength, indicating that the effects of contractility on adhesive force are vinculin-dependent. Furthermore, in cells expressing FAK, inhibitors of contractility reduced serum-induced adhesion strengthening as well as eliminated focal adhesion assembly. In contrast, in the absence of FAK, these inhibitors did not alter adhesion strength or focal adhesion assembly. These results indicate that contractility modulates adhesion strengthening via FAK-dependent, vinculin-containing focal adhesion assembly.
actin-myosin; focal adhesion kinase (FAK); vinculin; contractility
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) have tremendous potential as a cell source for regenerative medicine due to their capacity for differentiation into a wide range of connective tissue cell types. Although significant progress has been made in the identification of defined growth factor conditions to induce lineage commitment, the effect of underlying biomaterial properties on functional differentiation is far less understood. Here we conduct a systematic assessment of the role for surface chemistry on cell growth, morphology, gene expression, and function during hMSC commitment along osteogenic, chondrogenic, and adipogenic lineages. Using self-assembled monolayers of ω-functionalized alkanethiols on gold as model substrates, we demonstrate that biomaterial surface chemistry differentially modulates hMSC differentiation in a lineage-dependent manner. These results highlight the importance of initial biomaterial surface chemistry on long term functional differentiation of adult stem cells and suggest that surface properties are a critical parameter that must be considered in the design of biomaterials for stem cell-based regenerative medicine strategies.
Microcontact printing (μ-CP) is a facile, cost-effective, and versatile soft-lithography technique to create 2-dimensional patterns of domains with distinct functionalities that provides a robust platform to generate micropatterned biotechnological arrays and cell culture substrates. Current μ-CP approaches rely on non-specific immobilization of biological ligands, either by direct printing or adsorption from solution, onto micropatterned domains surrounded by a non-fouling background. This technique is limited by insufficient control over ligand density. We present a modified μ-CP protocol involving stamping mixed ratios of carboxyl- and tri(ethylene glycol)-terminated alkanethiols that provides for precise covalent tethering of single or multiple ligands to prescribed micropatterns via standard peptide chemistry. Processing parameters were optimized to identify conditions that control relevant endpoint pattern characteristics. This technique provides a facile method to generate micropatterned arrays with tailorable and controlled presentation of biological ligands for biotechnological applications and analyses of cell-material interactions.
micropatterning; lithography; microcontact printing; self-assembled monolayers
Integrin-mediated cell adhesion to biomolecules adsorbed onto biomedical devices regulates device integration and performance. Because of the central role of integrin-fibronectin (FN) interactions in osteoblastic function and bone formation, we evaluated the ability of fibronectin-inspired biomolecular coatings to promote osteoblastic differentiation and implant osseointegration. Notably, these biomolecular coatings relied on physical adsorption of FN-based ligands onto biomedical-grade titanium as a simple, clinically-translatable strategy to functionalize medical implants. Surfaces coated with a recombinant fragment of FN spanning the central cell binding domain enhanced osteoblastic differentiation and mineralization in bone marrow stromal cell cultures and increased implant osseointegration in a rat cortical bone model compared to passively adsorbed RGD peptides, serum proteins, and full-length FN. Differences in biological responses correlated with integrin binding specificity and signaling among surface coatings. This work validates a simple, clinically-translatable, surface biofunctionalization strategy to enhance biomedical device integration.
fibronectin; osseointegration; coating; integrins; biomimetic; implant
Synthetic polymer coatings are used extensively in modern medical devices and implants because of their material versatility and processability. These coatings are designed for specific applications by controlling composition and physical and chemical properties, and they can be formed into a variety of complex structures and shapes. However, implantation of these materials into the body elicits a strong inflammatory host response that significantly limits the integration and biological performance of devices. Biomaterial-mediated inflammation is a complex reaction involving protein adsorption, leukocyte recruitment and activation, secretion of inflammatory mediators, and fibrous encapsulation of the implant. Significant research efforts have focused on modifying material properties using various anti-inflammatory polymeric surface coatings to generate more biocompatible implants. This minireview provides a brief background on the events of biomaterial-mediated inflammation and highlights various approaches used for modifying material surfaces to modulate inflammatory responses. These include both passive and active strategies, such as nonfouling surface treatments and delivery of anti-inflammatory agents, respectively. Novel approaches will be needed to extend the in vivo lifetime and performance of devices and reduce the need for multiple implantation surgeries.
biomaterial; polymer; coating; host response; implant; anti-inflammatory
Cell adhesion to extracellular matrix (ECM) components through cell-surface integrin receptors is essential to the formation, maintenance and repair of numerous tissues, and therefore represents a central theme in the design of bioactive materials that successfully interface with the body. While the adhesive responses associated with a single ligand have been extensively analyzed, the effects of multiple integrin subtypes binding to multivalent ECM signals remain poorly understood. In the present study, we generated a high throughput platform of non-adhesive surfaces presenting well-defined, independent densities of two integrin-specific engineered ligands for the type I collagen (COL-I) receptor α2β1 and the fibronectin (FN) receptor α5β1 to evaluate the effects of integrin cross-talk on adhesive responses. Engineered surfaces displayed ligand density-dependent adhesive effects, and mixed ligand surfaces significantly enhanced cell adhesion strength and focal adhesion assembly compared to single FN and COL-I ligand surfaces. Moreover, surfaces presenting mixed COL-I/FN ligands synergistically enhanced FAK activation compared to the single ligand substrates. The enhanced adhesive activities of the mixed ligand surfaces also promoted elevated proliferation rates. Our results demonstrate interplay between multivalent ECM ligands in adhesive responses and downstream cellular signaling.
collagen; fibronectin; cell adhesion; focal adhesion; integrin
Delivery of recombinant proteins is a proven therapeutic strategy to promote endogenous repair mechanisms and tissue regeneration. Bone morphogenetic protein-2 (rhBMP-2) has been used to promote spinal fusion and repair of challenging bone defects; however, the current clinically-used carrier, absorbable collagen sponge, requires high doses and has been associated with adverse complications. We evaluated the hypothesis that the relationship between protein dose and regenerative efficacy depends on delivery system. First, we determined the dose-response relationship for rhBMP-2 delivered to 8-mm rat bone defects in a hybrid nanofiber mesh/alginate delivery system at six doses ranging from 0 to 5 μg. Next, we directly compared the hybrid delivery system to the collagen sponge at 0.1 and 1.0 μg. Finally, we compared the in vivo protein release properties of the two delivery methods. In the hybrid delivery system, bone volume, connectivity and mechanical properties increased in a dose-dependent manner to rhBMP-2. Consistent bridging of the defect was observed for doses of 1.0 μg and greater. Compared to collagen sponge delivery at the same 1.0 μg dose, the hybrid system yielded greater connectivity by week 4 and 2.5-fold greater bone volume by week 12. These differences may be explained by the significantly greater protein retention in the hybrid system compared to collagen sponge. This study demonstrates a clear dose-dependent effect of rhBMP-2 delivered using a hybrid nanofiber mesh/alginate delivery system. Furthermore, the effective dose was found to vary with delivery system, demonstrating the importance of biomaterial carrier properties in the delivery of recombinant proteins.
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is an essential nonreceptor tyrosine kinase regulating cell migration, adhesive signaling, and mechanosensing. Using FAK-null cells expressing FAK under an inducible promoter, we demonstrate that FAK regulates the time-dependent generation of adhesive forces. During the early stages of adhesion, FAK expression in FAK-null cells enhances integrin activation to promote integrin binding and, hence, the adhesion strengthening rate. Importantly, FAK expression regulated integrin activation, and talin was required for the FAK-dependent effects. A role for FAK in integrin activation was confirmed in human fibroblasts with knocked-down FAK expression. The FAK autophosphorylation Y397 site was required for the enhancements in adhesion strengthening and integrin-binding responses. This work demonstrates a novel role for FAK in integrin activation and the time-dependent generation of cell–ECM forces.
Implant osseointegration, defined as bone apposition and functional fixation, is a requisite for clinical success in orthopaedic and dental applications, many of which are restricted by implant loosening. Modification of implants to present bioactive motifs such as the RGD cell-adhesive sequence from fibronectin (FN) represents a promising approach in regenerative medicine. However, these biomimetic strategies have yielded only marginal enhancements in tissue healing in vivo. In this study, clinical-grade titanium implants were grafted with a non-fouling oligo(ethylene glycol)-substituted polymer coating functionalized with controlled densities of ligands of varying specificity for target integrin receptors. Biomaterials presenting the α5β1-integrin-specific FN fragment FNIII7–10 enhanced osteoblastic differentiation in bone marrow stromal cells compared to unmodified titanium and RGD-presenting surfaces. Importantly, FNIII7–10-functionalized titanium significantly improved functional implant osseointegration compared to RGD-functionalized and unmodified titanium in vivo. This study demonstrates that bioactive coatings that promote integrin binding specificity regulate marrow-derived progenitor osteoblastic differentiation and enhance healing responses and functional integration of biomedical implants. This work identifies an innovative strategy for the rational design of biomaterials for regenerative medicine.
Biomaterial-mediated gene delivery has recently emerged as a promising alternative to conventional gene transfer technologies that focus on direct delivery of viral vectors or DNA-polymer/matrix complexes. However, biomaterial-based strategies have primarily targeted transient gene expression vehicles, including plasmid DNA and adenovirus particles. This study expands on this work by characterizing biomaterial properties conducive to the surface immobilization of retroviral particles and subsequent transduction of mammalian cells at the cell-material interface. Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of functionally-terminated alkanethiols on gold were used to establish biomaterial surfaces of defined chemical composition. Gene transfer was observed to be greater than 90% on NH2-terminated surfaces, approximately 50% on COOH-functionalized surfaces, and undetectable on CH3-terminated SAMs, similar to controls of tissue culture-treated polystyrene. Gene delivery via the NH2-SAM was further characterized as a function of coating time, virus concentration, and cell seeding density. Finally, SAM-mediated gene delivery was comparable to fibronectin- and poly-L-lysine-based methods for gene transfer. This work is significant to establishing safe and effective gene therapy strategies, developing efficient methods for gene delivery, and supporting recent progress in the field of biomaterial-mediated gene transfer.
fibroblast; genetic engineering; gene therapy; gene transfer; self-assembly; alkanethiol
Host responses to biomaterials control the biological performance of implanted medical devices. Upon implantation, synthetic materials adsorb biomolecules which trigger an inflammatory cascade comprising coagulation, leukocyte recruitment/adhesion, and foreign body reaction. The foreign body reaction and ensuing fibrous encapsulation severely limit the in vivo performance of numerous biomedical devices. While it is well established that plasma fibrinogen and secreted cytokines modulate leukocyte recruitment and maturation into foreign body giant cells, mediators of chronic inflammation and fibrous encapsulation of implanted biomaterials remain poorly understood. Using plasma fibronectin conditional knock-out mice, we demonstrate that plasma fibronectin modulates the foreign body response to polyethylene terephthalate discs implanted subcutaneously. Fibrous collagenous capsules were two-fold thicker in mice depleted of plasma fibronectin compared to controls. In contrast, deletion of plasma fibronectin did not alter acute leukocyte recruitment to the biomaterial, indicating that plasma fibronectin modulates chronic fibrotic responses. The number of foreign body giant cells associated with the implant was three times higher in the absence of plasma fibronectin while macrophage numbers were not different, suggesting that plasma fibronectin regulates the formation of biomaterial-associated foreign body giant cells. Interestingly, cellular fibronectin was present in the capsules of both normal and plasma fibronectin-depleted mice, suggesting that cellular fibronectin could not compensate for the loss of plasma fibronectin. These results implicate plasma fibronectin in the host response to implanted materials and identify a potential target for therapeutic intervention to enhance the biological performance of biomedical devices.
Implant osseointegration is a prerequisite for clinical success in orthopaedic and dental applications, many of which are restricted by loosening. Biomaterial surface modification approaches, including calcium-phosphate ceramic coatings and macro/microporosity, have had limited success in promoting integration. To improve osseointegration, titanium surfaces were coated with the GFOGER collagen-mimetic peptide, selectively promoting α2β1 integrin binding, a crucial event for osteoblastic differentiation. Titanium surfaces presenting GFOGER triggered osteoblastic differentiation and mineral deposition in bone marrow stromal cells, leading to enhanced osteoblastic function compared to unmodified titanium. Furthermore, this integrin-targeted coating significantly improved in vivo peri-implant bone regeneration and osseointegration, as characterized by bone-implant contact and mechanical fixation, compared to untreated titanium in a rat cortical bone-implant model. GFOGER-modified implants also significantly enhanced osseointegration compared to surfaces modified with full-length type I collagen, highlighting the importance of presenting specific biofunctional domains within the native ligand. In addition, this biomimetic implant coating is generated using a simple, single-step procedure that readily translates to a clinical environment with minimal processing and cytotoxicity concerns. Therefore, this study establishes a biologically active and clinically relevant implant coating strategy that enhances bone repair and orthopaedic implant integration.
biomimetic material; cell adhesion; collagen; osseointegration; integrin
Embryonic epiboly has become an important developmental model for studying the mechanisms underlying collective movements of epithelial cells. In the last couple of decades, most studies of epiboly have utilized Xenopus or zebrafish as genetically tractable model organisms, while the avian epiboly model has received virtually no attention. Here, we re-visit epiboly in quail embryos and characterize several molecular markers of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in the inner zone of the extraembryonic Area Opaca and at the blastoderm edge. Our results show that the intermediate filament vimentin, a widely-used marker for the mesenchymal phenotype, is strongly expressed in the edge cells compared to the cells in the inner zone. Laminin, an extracellular matrix protein that is a major structural and adhesive component of the epiblast basement membrane and the inner zone of the Area Opaca, is notably absent from the blastoderm edge. While these expression profiles are consistent with a mesenchymal phenotype, several other epithelial markers, including cytokeratin, β-catenin, and E-cadherin, are present in the blastoderm edge cells. Moreover, the results of a BrDU proliferation assay strongly suggest that expansion of the edge cell population is primarily due to recruitment of cells from the inner zone, as opposed to proliferation. Taken together, our data show that the edge cells of the avian blastoderm have characteristics of both epithelial and mesenchymal cells, and that the avian epiboly model, which has been dormant for so many years, may yet again prove to be helpful as a unique developmental model for studying partial EMT in the context of collective epithelial cell migration.
epiboly; epithelial migration; EMT; extracellular matrix; intermediate filaments; adhesion; motility
Bridging of long peripheral nerve gaps remains a significant clinical challenge. Electrospun nanofibers have been used to direct and enhance neurite extension in vitro and in vivo. While it is well established that oriented fibers influence neurite outgrowth and Schwann cell migration, the mechanisms by which they influence these cells are still unclear. In this study, thin films consisting of aligned poly-acrylonitrile methyl acrylate (PAN-MA) fibers or solvent casted smooth, PAN-MA films were fabricated to investigate the potential role of differential protein adsorption on topography-dependent neural cell responses. Aligned nanofibers films promoted enhanced adsorption of fibronectin compared to smooth films. Studies employing function-blocking antibodies against cell adhesion motifs suggest that fibronectin plays an important role in modulating Schwann cell migration and neurite outgrowth from dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cultures. Atomic Force Microscopy demonstrated that aligned PAN-MA fibers influenced fibronectin distribution, and promoted aligned fibronectin network formation compared to smooth PAN-MA films. In the presence of topographical cues, Schwann cell-generated fibronectin matrix was also organized in a topographically sensitive manner. Together these results suggest that fibronectin adsorption mediated the ability of topographical cues to influence Schwann cell migration and neurite outgrowth. These insights are significant to the development of rational approaches to scaffold designs to bridge long peripheral nerve gaps.
neural tissue engineering; fibronectin; Schwann cell migration; protein distribution; electrospun nanofibers; peripheral nerve regeneration
Mechanical interactions between a cell and its environment regulate migration, contractility, gene expression, and cell fate. We integrated micropatterned substrates to engineer adhesive area and a hydrodynamic assay to analyze fibroblast adhesion strengthening on fibronectin. Independently of cell spreading, integrin binding and focal adhesion assembly resulted in rapid sevenfold increases in adhesion strength to steady-state levels. Adhesive area strongly modulated adhesion strength, integrin binding, and vinculin and talin recruitment, exhibiting linear increases for small areas. However, above a threshold area, adhesion strength and focal adhesion assembly reached a saturation limit, whereas integrin binding transitioned from a uniform distribution to discrete complexes. Adhesion strength exhibited exponential increases with bound integrin numbers as well as vinculin and talin recruitment, and the relationship between adhesion strength and these biochemical events was accurately described by a simple mechanical model. Furthermore, adhesion strength was regulated by the position of an adhesive patch, comprised of bound integrins and cytoskeletal elements, which generated a constant 200-nN adhesive force. Unexpectedly, focal adhesion assembly, in particular vinculin recruitment, contributed only 30% of the adhesion strength. This work elucidates the roles of adhesive complex size and position in the generation of cell-extracellular matrix forces.
Social dominance is widely known to facilitate access to food resources in many animal species such as deer. However, research has paid little attention to dominance in ad libitum access to food because it was thought not to result in any benefit for dominant individuals. In this study we assessed if, even under ad libitum conditions, social rank may allow dominant hinds to consume the preferred components of food. Forty-four red deer hinds (Cervus elaphus) were allowed to consume ad libitum meal consisting of pellets of sunflower, lucerne and orange, and seeds of cereals, corn, cotton, and carob tree. The meal was placed only in one feeder, which reduced accessibility to a few individuals simultaneously. During seven days, feeding behavior (order of access, time to first feeding bout, total time spent feeding, and time per feeding bout) were assessed during the first hour. The relative abundance of each meal component was assessed at times 0, 1 and 5 h, as well as its nutritional composition. Social rank was positively related to the amount of time spent feeding during the 1st h (P = 0.048). Selection indices were positively correlated with energy (P = 0.018 during the 1st h and P = 0.047 from 1st to 5th) and fat (only during the 1st h; P = 0.036), but also negatively with certain minerals. Thus, dominant hinds could select high energy meal components for longer time under an ad libitum but restricted food access setting. Selection indices showed a higher selectivity when food availability was higher (1st hour respect to 1st to 5th). Finally, high and low ranking hinds had longer time per feeding bout than mid ones (P = 0.011), suggesting complex behavioral feeding tactics of low ranking social ungulates.
Limited osseointegration of current orthopaedic biomaterials contributes to the failure of implants such as arthroplasties, bone screws and bone grafts, which present a large socioeconomic cost within the United States. These implant failures underscore the need for biomimetic approaches that modulate host cell-implant material responses to enhance implant osseointegration and bone formation. Bioinspired strategies have included functionalizing implants with ECM proteins or ECM-derived peptides or protein fragments which engage integrins and direct osteoblast adhesion and differentiation. This review discusses 1) bone ECM composition and key integrins implicated in osteogenic differentiation, 2) the use of implants functionalized with ECM-mimetic peptides/protein fragments, and 3) growth-factor derived peptides to promote the mechanical fixation of implants to bone and to enhance bone healing within large defects.
Biomaterial matrices presenting extracellular matrix (ECM) components in a controlled three-dimensional configuration provide a unique system to study neural stem cell (NSC)–ECM interactions. We cultured primary murine neurospheres in a methylcellulose (MC) scaffold functionalized with laminin-1 (MC-x-LN1) and monitored NSC survival, apoptosis, migration, differentiation, and matrix production. Overall, MC-x-LN1 enhanced both NSC survival and maturation compared with MC controls. Significantly lower levels of apoptotic activity were observed in MC-x-LN1 than in MC controls, as measured by bcl-2/bax gene expression and tetramethylrhodamine-dUTP nick end labeling. A higher percentage of NSCs extended neurites in a β1-integrin-mediated fashion in MC-x-LN1 than in MC controls. Further, the differentiation profiles of NSCs in MC-x-LN1 exhibited higher levels of neuronal and oligodendrocyte precursor markers than in MC controls. LN1 production and co-localization with α6β1 integrins was markedly increased within MC-x-LN1, whereas the production of fibronectin was more pronounced in MC controls. These findings demonstrate that NSC microenvironments modulate cellular activity throughout the neurosphere, contributing to our understanding of ECM-mediated NSC behavior and provide new avenues for developing rationally designed couriers for neurotransplantation.
Host integration and performance of engineered tissues have been severely limited by the lack of robust strategies to generate patent vascularization and tissue perfusion. This review highlights a selection of exciting developments in vascularization approaches for tissue engineering research. Current strategies for vascularization in tissue engineering are related to growth factor signaling and delivery, cell transplantation, bioactive smart matrix materials, and directed fabrication. Application of these techniques to in vivo models has resulted in a number of robust host vascular responses, especially with synergistic and engineered bioactive systems. The future outlook of the field includes refinement and development of new technologies for vascularization and combining these techniques with functional repair models for metabolically active tissues and relevant disease states.
The repair of large nonunions in long bones remains a significant clinical problem due to high failure rates and limited tissue availability for auto- and allografts. Many cell-based strategies for healing bone defects deliver bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) to the defect site to take advantage of the inherent osteogenic capacity of this cell type. However, many factors, including donor age and ex vivo expansion of the cells, cause BMSCs to lose their differentiation ability. To overcome these limitations, we have genetically engineered BMSCs to constitutively overexpress the osteoblast-specific transcription factor Runx2. In the present study, we examined Runx2-modified BMSCs, delivered via polycaprolactone scaffolds loaded with type I collagen meshes, in critical-sized segmental defects in rats compared to unmodified cells, cell-free scaffolds, and empty defects. Runx2 expression in BMSCs accelerated healing of critical-sized defects compared to unmodified BMSCs and defects receiving cell-free treatments. These findings provide an accelerated method for healing large bone defects, which may reduce recovery time and the need for external fixation of critical-sized defects.
Engineered biointerfaces covered with biomimetic motifs, including short bioadhesive ligands, are a promising material-based strategy for tissue repair in regenerative medicine. Potentially useful coating molecules are ligands for the integrins, major extracellular matrix receptors that require both ligand binding and nanoscale clustering for maximal signaling efficiency. We prepared coatings consisting of well-defined multimer constructs with a precise number of recombinant fragments of fibronectin (monomer, dimer, tetramer, and pentamer) to assess how nanoscale ligand clustering affects integrin binding, stem cell responses, tissue healing, and biomaterial integration. Clinical-grade titanium was grafted with polymer brushes that presented monomers, dimers, trimers, or pentamers of the α5β1 integrin–specific fibronectin III (7 to 10) domain (FNIII7–10). Coatings consisting of trimers and pentamers enhanced integrin-mediated adhesion in vitro, osteogenic signaling, and differentiation in human mesenchymal stem cells more than did surfaces presenting monomers and dimers. Furthermore, ligand clustering promoted bone formation and functional integration of the implant into bone in rat tibiae. This study establishes that a material-based strategy in which implants are coated with clustered bioadhesive ligands can promote robust implant-tissue integration.