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Biophys Chem. 2001 Dec 25;94(3):275-83.

Substratum nanotopography and the adhesion of biological cells. Are symmetry or regularity of nanotopography important?

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  • 1Centre for Cell Engineering, IBLS, University of Glasgow, Joseph Black Building, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, UK.


Animal cells live in environments where many of the features that surround them are on the nanoscale, for example detail on collagen molecules. Do cells react to objects of this size and if so, what features of the molecules are they responding to? Here we show, by fabricating nanometric features in silica and by casting reverse features in polycaprolactone and culturing vertebrate cells in culture upon them, that cells react in their adhesion to the features. With cliffs, adhesion is enhanced at the cliff edge, while pits or pillars in ordered arrays diminish adhesion. The results implicate ordered topography and possibly symmetry effects in the adhesion of cells. Parallel results were obtained in the adhesion of carboxylate-surfaced 2-microm-diameter particles to these surfaces. These results are in agreement with recent predictions from non-biological nanometric systems.

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