Hierarchical hybrid micro/nano-textured titanium surface topographies with titania nanotubes were produced by simple acid etching followed by anodization to mimic the hierarchical structure of bone tissues. Primary rat osteoblasts were used to evaluate the bioactivity. The microtopography formed by acid etching of titanium induced inconsistent osteoblast functions with initial cell adhesion and osteogenesis-related gene expression being dramatically enhanced while other cell behaviors such as proliferation, intracellular total protein synthesis and alkaline phosphatase activity, collagen secretion, and extracellular matrix mineralization being depressed. In comparison, addition of nanotubes to the microtopography led to enhancement of multiple osteoblast functions. Nearly all the cell functions investigated in this study were retained or promoted. Compared to a microtopography, the enhancement of multiple cell functions observed from the hierarchical micro/nano-textured surfaces is expected to lead to faster bone maturation around the titanium implants without compromising the bone mass. In addition, the hierarchical micro/nano-textured surfaces still retain the mechanical interlocking ability of the microtopography thereby boding well for osseointegration. Our study reveals a synergistic role played by the micro and nanotopographies in osteoblast functions and provides insight to the design of better biomedical implant surfaces.
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