Background: Implant surface characteristics have been shown to modify cell behavior and regulate integrin expression. Integrin expression and resultant integrin-mediated cellular activity are essential components of tissue healing and homeostasis. Although both osseous and soft tissue healing around dental implants are critical to clinical success, there is limited information available on the effect of implant surfaces on integrin expression in soft tissues. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine integrin expression for gingival fibroblasts on titanium surfaces and the influence of titanium surface roughness on integrin expression and cell morphology. Methods: Human gingival fibroblasts were cultured on smooth (polished) and rough (sand-blasted acid-etched) titanium surfaces and a cell culture plastic (control) surface. To analyze integrin expression, total RNA was isolated from experimental and control cells, and levels of integrin subunit mRNA were assessed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using primers specific for the α2, α4, α5, αv, and β1 integrin subunits and aldolase (internal control). PCR products were analyzed by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE), confirmed via DNA sequencing, and quantified using computer-assisted densitometry. The expression of the integrin subunits was analyzed at the protein level using flow cytometry, as well as fluorescence and confocal laser microscopy. Cell morphology was evaluated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Results: Our experiments demonstrated cellular expression of the α2, α4, α5, αv, and β1 integrin subunits at both mRNA and protein levels on all surfaces. In addition, the α4 and β1 mRNA levels were significantly increased on smooth titanium relative to plastic surfaces (P <0.05) with intermediate mRNA levels found on the rough titanium surfaces. The smooth titanium surfaces exhibited a flat monolayer of cells, while rough titanium surfaces showed cells orienting themselves along surface irregularities. Conclusions: These results demonstrate the presence of multiple integrin subunits in human gingival fibroblasts grown in contact with titanium implant surfaces and that titanium surface roughness alters cellular morphology but appears to have limited effects on integrin expression. This study provides insight into the complicated cellular and molecular events occurring at the implant surface that may be critical to optimizing the soft tissue interactions with the soft tissue-implant interface.
ASJC Scopus subject areas