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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2013 Mar;101(3):748-54. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.34377. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

The roles of PI3K/Akt signaling pathway in regulating MC3T3-E1 preosteoblast proliferation and differentiation on SLA and SLActive titanium surfaces.

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Department of Oral and Maxillo-Facial Implantology, Shanghai Ninth People's Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China.


Chemical modification to produce a hydrophilic microrough titanium (Ti) implant surface has been shown to increase osseointegration compared with microrough topography alone. This study aimed to investigate the roles of PI3K/Akt signaling pathway in regulating proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts in response to surface microroughness and hydrophilicity. Ti disks were manufactured to present different surface morphologies: a smooth pretreatment surface (PT), a rough hydrophobic surface that was sand-blasted, large-grit, acid-etched (SLA), and an SLA surface with the same roughness that was chemically modified to possess high wettability/hydrophilicity (SLActive/modSLA). MC3T3-E1 cells were cultured on these substrates with or without LY294002, a PI3K inhibitor, and their behaviors, including cell viability (MTT colorimetric assay), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity, and osteogenic genes expression of osteopontin (OPN) and osteocalcin (OCN) were measured. Western blot was applied to detect the expression of PI3K/Akt signal pathway proteins. The results showed that a decrease in osteoblast proliferation associated with the Ti surfaces (SLActive > SLA > PT) correlated with an increase in activity of the osteogenic differentiation markers ALP. The peak of ALP activity appeared earlier at 7 days for the SLActive surfaces compared with the SLA and PT surfaces. Osteoblast proliferation, as well as the level of p-Akt, was significantly inhibited by LY294002 in all three Ti surfaces. The top value of ALP activity was increased with the inhibition of PI3K/Akt signaling pathway while the time of the peak appeared was not advanced. The expression levels of OPN and OCN were upregulated by the effect of surface roughness and hydrophilicity, which were further enhanced by LY294002. In conclusion, osteogenic responses to SLActive surface were moderately better than the SLA surface and protein expression studies indicated that PI3K/Akt signaling activation may be responsible for this increased osteogenic differentiation. Surface microroughness and hydrophilicity may affect osteoblast functions by targeting osteoblast proliferation and the early stage of osteoblast differentiation through PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.

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