Single-walled carbon nanotube scaffolds promote stem cell differentiation into bone forming cells

Xiaomin Tu, Charles M. Skinner, Xiao Dong Chen, Wei Zhao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The use of carbon nanotubes for tissue engineering has become one of the most fascinating applications. The exquisite electronic and mechanical properties of carbon nanotubes may provide a three-dimensional (3D) microenvironment that closely mimics in vivo situation for facilitating the use of stem cells in the tissue regeneration. Therefore, it is important to know whether carbon nanotubes enhance the adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation of stem cells. Here, we hypothesized that the carbon nanotubes promote the differentiation of osteoblast progenitors into mature osteoblasts. To test this hypothesis, we quantified the differentiation of murine osteoblast progenitors, with and without pro-differentiating growth factor Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 (BMP-2), cultured on the 3D scaffolds made by single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). Three types of SWNT samples, chitosan functionalized SWNTs, acid-oxidized SWNTs, and surfactant-free pristine SWNTs were used for the construction of these 3D microarchitectures. Osteoblast progenitors were harvested from calvariae from 3~5-day-old mice, and cultured on the 3D scaffolds made by carbon nanotubes until ~ 80% confluent. Then the cells were treated with BMP-2 (100 ng/ml) for 5 days. It was found that osteoblast progenitors cultured on the SWNTs dramatically increased the level of mature osteoblastic marker osteocalcin in either the absence or the presence of BMP-2, as compared to the cells cultured on the regulate tissue culture plastic plates. The results suggested that SWNTs highly promote osteoblast progenitor differentiation into mature osteoblasts. The finding indicates that SWNTs may provide an ideal scaffold for facilitating the differentiation of osteoblast progenitors in the repair of bone defects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings - Applications of Nanotubes and Nanowires
PublisherMaterials Research Society
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781605604251
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
EventApplications of Nanotubes and Nanowires - 2007 MRS Spring Meeting - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Apr 9 2007Apr 13 2007

Publication series

NameMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0272-9172


OtherApplications of Nanotubes and Nanowires - 2007 MRS Spring Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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