Role of material surfaces in regulating bone and cartilage cell response

Barbara D. Boyan, Thomas W. Hummert, David D. Dean, Zvi Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1225 Scopus citations


Tissue engineering in vitro and in vivo involves the interaction of cells with a material surface. The nature of the surface can directly influence cellular response, ultimately affecting the rate and quality of new tissue formation. Initial events at the surface include the orientated adsorption of molecules from the surrounding fluid, creating a conditioned interface to which the cell responds. The gross morphology, as well as the microtopography and chemistry of the surface, determine which molecules can adsorb and how cells will attach and align themselves. The focal attachments made by the cells with their substrate determine cell shape which, when transduced via the cytoskeleton to the nucleus, result in expression of specific phenotypes. Osteoblasts and chondrocytes are sensitive to subtle differences in surface roughness and surface chemistry. Studies comparing chondrocyte response to TiO2 of differing crystallinities show that cells can discriminate between surfaces at this level as well. Cellular response also depends on the local environmental and state of maturation of the responding cells. Optimizing surface structure for site-specific tissue engineering is one option; modifying surfaces with biologicals is another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-146
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Chondrocytes
  • Implant
  • Osteoblasts
  • Surface roughness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials


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