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Acoustic detection of cell adhesion to a coated quartz crystal microbalance – implications for studying the biocompatibility of polymers

Authors

  • Ana-Carina Da-Silva,

    1. IBB-Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Center for Molecular and Structural Biomedicine, University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro, Portugal
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  • Sandra S. Soares,

    1. IBB-Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Center for Molecular and Structural Biomedicine, University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro, Portugal
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  • Prof. Guilherme N. M. Ferreira

    Corresponding author
    1. IBB-Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Center for Molecular and Structural Biomedicine, University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, Faro, Portugal
    • IBB-Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Center for Molecular and Structural Biomedicine, University of Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
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Abstract

Biocompatibility of polymers is an important parameter for the successful application of polymers in tissue engineering. In this work, quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) devices were used to follow the adhesion of NIH 3T3 fibroblasts to QCM surfaces modified with fibronectin (FN) and poly-D-lysine (PDL). The variations in sensor resonant frequency (Δf) and motional resistance (ΔR), monitored as the sensor signal, revealed that cell adhesion was favored in the PDL-coated QCMs. Fluorescence microscopy images of seeded cells showed more highly spread cells on the PDL substrate, which is consistent with the results of the QCM signals. The sensor signal was shown to be sensitive to extracellular matrix (ECM)-binding motifs. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and soluble Gly-Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser (GRGDS) peptides were used to interfere with cell-ECM binding motifs onto FN-coated QCMs. The acquired acoustic signals successfully showed that in the presence of 30 mM EDTA or 1 mM GRGDS, cell adhesion is almost completely abolished due to the inhibition/blocking of integrin function by these compounds. The results presented here demonstrate the potential of the QCM sensor to study cell adhesion, to monitor the biocompatibility of polymers and materials, and to assess the effect of adhesion modulators. QCM sensors have great potential in tissue engineering applications, as QCM sensors are able to analyze the biocompatibility of surfaces and it has the added advantage of being able to evaluate, in situ and in real time, the effect of specific drugs/treatments on cells.

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