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Keywords:

  • roughness;
  • microwire;
  • magnetic field;
  • polyacrylamide;
  • cell area

Abstract

Microscale and nanoscale surface topography changes can influence cell functions, including morphology. Although in vitro responses to static topography are novel, cells in vivo constantly remodel topography. To better understand how cells respond to changes in topography over time, we developed a soft polyacrylamide hydrogel with magnetic nickel microwires randomly oriented in the surface of the material. Varying the magnetic field around the microwires reversibly induced their alignment with the direction of the field, causing the smooth hydrogel surface to develop small wrinkles; changes in surface roughness, ΔRRMS, ranged from 0.05 to 0.70 μm and could be oscillated without hydrogel creep. Vascular smooth muscle cell morphology was assessed when exposed to acute and dynamic topography changes. Area and shape changes occurred when an acute topographical change was imposed for substrates exceeding roughness of 0.2 μm, but longer-term oscillating topography did not produce significant changes in morphology irrespective of wire stiffness. These data imply that cells may be able to use topography changes to transmit signals as they respond immediately to changes in roughness. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A, 2013.