Imaging analysis of the interface between osteoblasts and microrough surfaces of laser-sintered titanium alloy constructs

A. Cheng, H. Chen, Z. Schwartz, B. D. Boyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Previous work using focused ion beam (FIB) analysis of osteoblasts on smooth and microrough Ti surfaces showed that the average cell aspect ratio and distance from the surface are greater on the rough surface. In order to better interrogate the relationship between individual cells and their substrate using multiple imaging modalities, we developed a method that tracks the same cell across confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) to correlate surface microroughness with cell morphology and cytoskeleton; scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to provide higher resolution for observation of nanoroughness as well as chemical mapping via energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy; and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) for high-resolution imaging. FIB was used to prepare thin sections of the cell-material interface for TEM, or for three-dimensional electron tomography. Cells were cultured on laser-sintered Ti-6Al-4V substrates with polished or etched surfaces. Direct cell to surface attachments were observed across surfaces, though bridging across macroscale surface features occurred on rough substrates. Our results show that surface roughness, cell cytoskeleton and gross morphology can be correlated with the cell-material cross-sectional interface at the single cell level across multiple high-resolution imaging modalities. This work provides a platform method for further investigating mechanisms of the cell-material interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-52
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Biomaterials
  • cytoskeleton
  • material characterisation
  • morphology
  • surface roughness
  • titanium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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