A commonly applied strategy in the field of tissue engineering (TE) is the use of temporary three-dimensional scaffolds for supporting and guiding tissue formation in various in vitro strategies and in vivo regeneration approaches. The interactions of these scaffolds with highly sensitive bioentities such as living cells and tissues primarily occur through the material surface. Hence, surface chemistry and topological features have principal roles in coordinating biological events at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels on timescales ranging from seconds to weeks. However, tailoring the surface properties of scaffolds with a complex shape and architecture remains a challenge in materials science. Commonly applied wet chemical treatments often involve the use of toxic solvents whose oddments in the construct could be fatal in the subsequent application. Aiming to shorten the culture time in vitro (i.e. prior the implantation of the construct), in this work we propose a modification of previously described bone TE scaffolds made from a blend of starch with polycaprolactone (SPCL). The modification method involves surface grafting of sulfonic or phosphonic groups via plasma-induced polymerization of vinyl sulfonic and vinyl phosphonic acid, respectively. We demonstrate herein that the presence of these anionic functional groups can modulate cell adhesion mediated through the adsorbed proteins (from the culture medium). Under the conditions studied, both vitronectin adsorption and osteoblast proliferation and viability increased in the order SPCL ≪ sulfonic-grafted SPCL < phosphonic-grafted SPCL. The results revealed that plasma-induced polymerization is an excellent alternative route, when compared to the commonly used wet chemical treatments, for the surface functionalization of biodevices with complex shape and porosity.
- Plasma polymerization
- Surface modification