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Acta Biomater. 2012 Apr;8(4):1627-38. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2011.12.014. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

Cellular and transcriptomic analysis of human mesenchymal stem cell response to plasma-activated hydroxyapatite coating.

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School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, and Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.


Atmospheric pressure plasma has recently emerged as a technique with a promising future in the medical field. In this work we used the technique as a post-deposition modification process as a means to activate hydroxyapatite (HA) coatings. Contact angle goniometry, optical profilometry, scanning electron microscopy morphology imaging and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis demonstrate that surface wettability is improved after treatment, without inducing any concomitant damage to the coating. The protein adsorption pattern has been found to be preferable for MSC, and this may result in greater cell attachment and adhesion to plasma-activated HA than to untreated samples. Cell cycle distribution analysis using flow cytometry reveals a faster transition from G(1) to S phase, thus leading to a faster cell proliferation rate on plasma-activated HA. This indicates that the improvement in surface wettability independently enhances cell attachment and cell proliferation, which is possibly mediated by FAK phosphorylation. Pathway-specific polymerase chain reaction arrays revealed that wettability has a substantial influence on gene expression during osteogenic differentiation of human MSC. Plasma-activated HA tends to enhance this process by systemically deregulating multiple genes. In addition, the majority of these deregulated genes had been appropriately translated, as confirmed by ELISA protein quantification. Lastly, alizarin red staining showed that plasma-activated HA is capable of improving mineralization for up to 3 weeks of in vitro culture. It was concluded from this study that atmospheric pressure plasma is a potent tool for modifying the biological function of a material without causing thermal damage, such that adhesion molecules and drugs might be deposited on the original coating to improve performance.

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