Paper published in ACS Material and Interfaces

Human Fetal Osteoblast Response on Poly(Methyl Methacrylate)/Polystyrene Demixed Thin Film Blends: Surface Chemistry Vs Topography Effects

ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2016, 8 (24), pp 14920–14931

Recent advances in materials sciences have allowed for the development and fabrication of biomaterials that are capable of providing requisite cues to instigate cells to respond in a predictable fashion. We have developed a series of poly(methyl methacrylate)/polystyrene (PMMA/PS) polymer demixed thin films with nanotopographies ranging from nanoislands to nanopits to study the response of human fetal osteoblast cells (hFOBs). When PMMA was in excess in the blend composition, a nanoisland topography dominated, whereas a nanopit topography dominated when PS was in excess. PMMA was found to segregate to the top of the nanoisland morphology with PS preferring the substrate interface. To further ascertain the effects of surface chemistry vs topography, we plasma treated the polymer demixed films using an atmospheric pressure dielectric barrier discharge reactor to alter the surface chemistry. Our results have shown that hFOBs did not have an increased short-term cellular response on pristine polymer demixed surfaces. However, increasing the hydrophilicty/wettability of the surfaces by oxygen functionalization causes an increase in the cellular response. These results indicate that topography alone is not sufficient to induce a positive cellular response, but the underlying surface chemistry is also important in regulating cell function.