Understanding how the substrate topography acts on human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells
(MSCs) can help the rational design of scaffolds for improving bone regeneration protocols. MSCs are highly sensitive to
the extracellular physical properties and can be successfully manipulated by simple contact interaction with supporting
substrates. To this end, some polymeric materials were introduced, but polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a thermoplastic
polymer approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for clinical use and very attractive in terms of biocompatibility
and mechanical properties, has not been tested yet in terms of cell mechanotransduction. Here, we propose PET
nanogratings (alternating lines of submicron ridges and grooves) as scaffolds for stimulating mechanotransduction
mechanisms. Low-temperature hot embossing is exploited as fabrication method, and standard oxygen plasma activation
as functionalization to improve cell adhesion and spreading. We show that the substrate directionality stimulus is optimally
delivered to the MSCs, which in turn elongate and align to the nanograting lines. Finally, we verify that this polarization
occurs also at level of cytoskeleton fibers and, though to a lesser extent, of nuclei.
Keywords: Cytoskeleton, mechanotransduction, mesenchymal stromal cells, micrograting, nanograting, polyethylene terephthalate.
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