Influence of different surface treatments of poly(Eta-butyl acrylate) networks on fibroblasts adhesion, morphology and viability


BACKGROUND: Physical and chemical characteristics of implant materials determine the fate of long-term cardiovascular devices. However, there is still a lack of fundamental understanding of the molecular mechanisms occurring in the material-tissue interphase. In a previous study, soft covalently crosslinked poly(n-butyl acrylate) networks (cPnBA) were introduced as sterilizable, non-toxic and immuno-compatible biomaterials with mechanical properties adjustable to blood vessels. Here we study the influence of different surface treatments in particular oxygen plasma modification and fibrinogen deposition as well as a combinatorial approach on the adhesion and viability of fibroblasts. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Two types of cPnBA networks with Young’s moduli of 0.19±0.01 MPa (cPnBA04) and 1.02±0.01 MPa (cPnBA73) were synthesized and post-modified using oxygen plasma treatment (OPT) or fibrinogen coating (FIB) or a combination of both (OPT+FIB). The water contact angles of the differently post-treated cPnBAs were studied to monitor changes in the wettability of the polymer surfaces. Because of the key role of vascular fibroblasts in regeneration processes around implant materials, here we selected L929 fibroblasts as model cell type to explore morphology, viability, metabolic activity, cell membrane integrity as well as characteristics of the focal adhesions and cell cytoskeleton on the cPnBA surfaces. RESULTS: Compared to non-treated cPnBAs the advancing water-contact angles were found to be reduced after all surface modifications (p < 0.05, each), while lowest values were observed after the combined surface treatment (OPT+FIB). The latter differed significantly from the single OPT and FIB. The number of adherent fibroblasts and their adherence behavior differed on both pristine cPnBA networks. The fibroblast density on cPnBA04 was 743±434 cells·mm-2, was about 6.5 times higher than on cPnBA73 with 115±73 cells·mm-2. On cPnBA04 about 20% of the cells were visible as very small, round and buckled cells while all other cells were in a migrating status. On cPnBA73, nearly 50% of fibroblasts were visible as very small, round and buckled cells. The surface functionalization either using oxygen plasma treatment or fibrinogen coating led to a significant increase of adherent fibroblasts, particularly the combination of both techniques, for both cPnBA networks. It is noteworthy to mention that the fibrinogen coating overruled the characteristics of the pristine surfaces; here, the fibroblast densities after seeding were identical for both cPnBA networks. Thus, the binding rather depended on the fibrinogen coating than on the substrate characteristics anymore. While the integrity of the fibroblasts membrane was comparable for both polymers, the MTS tests showed a decreased metabolic activity of the fibroblasts on cPnBA. CONCLUSION: The applied surface treatments of cPnBA successfully improved the adhesion of viable fibroblasts. Under resting conditions as well as after shearing the highest fibroblast densities were found on surfaces with combined post-treatment.
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