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Open Access Open Badges Research

Shear- vs. nanotopography-guided control of growth of endothelial cells on RGD-nanoparticle-nanowell arrays

Katherine E McCracken1, Phat L Tran2, David J You1, Marvin J Slepian23 and Jeong-Yeol Yoon13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA

2 Sarver Heart Center and Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA

3 Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA

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Journal of Biological Engineering 2013, 7:11  doi:10.1186/1754-1611-7-11

Published: 22 April 2013


Endothelialization of therapeutic cardiovascular implants is essential for their intravascular hemocompatibility. We previously described a novel nanowell-RGD-nanoparticle ensemble, which when applied to surfaces led to enhanced endothelialization and retention under static conditions and low flow rates. In the present study we extend our work to determine the interrelated effects of flow rate and the orientation of ensemble-decorated surface arrays on the growth, adhesion and morphology of endothelial cells. Human umbilical vascular endothelial cells (HUVECs) were grown on array surfaces with either 1 μm × 5 μm spacing (“parallel to flow”) and 5 μm × 1 μm spacing (“perpendicular to flow”) and were exposed to a range of shear stress of (0 to 4.7 ± 0.2 dyn·cm-2 ), utilizing a pulsatile flow chamber. Under physiological flow (4.7 ± 0.2 dyn·cm-2), RGD-nanoparticle-nanowell array patterning significantly enhanced cell adhesion and spreading compared with control surfaces and with static conditions. Furthermore, improved adhesion coincided with higher alignment to surface patterning, intimating the importance of interaction and response to the array surface as a means of resisting flow detachment. Under sub-physiological condition (1.7 ± 0.3 dyn·cm-2; corresponding to early angiogenesis), nanowell-nanoparticle patterning did not provide enhanced cell growth and adhesion compared with control surfaces. However, it revealed increased alignment along the direction of flow, rather than the direction of the pattern, thus potentially indicating a threshold for cell guidance and related retention. These results could provide a cue for controlling cell growth and alignment under varying physiological conditions.