Enhancing cellular mechanosensitivity is recognized as a novel tool for successful musculoskeletal tissue engineering. We examined the hypothesis that mechanosensitivity of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) is enhanced on nanotopographic substrates relative to flat surfaces. hMSCs were cultured on polymer-demixed, randomly distributed nanoisland surfaces with varying island heights and changes in intracellular calcium concentration, [Ca(2+)](i), in response to fluid flow induced shear stress were quantifide. Stem cells cultured on specific scale nanotopographies displayed greater intracellular calcium responses to fluid flow. hMSCs cultured on 10-20nm high nanoislands displayed a greater percentage of cells responding in calcium relative to cells cultured on flat control, and showed greater average [Ca(2+)](i) increase relative to cells cultured on other nanoislands (45-80nm high nanoislands). As [Ca(2+)](i) is an important regulator of downstream signaling, as well as proliferation and differentiation of hMSCs, this observation suggests that specific scale nanotopographies provide an optimal milieu for promoting stem cell mechanotransduction activity. That mechanical signals and substrate nanotopography may synergistically regulate cell behavior is of significant interest in the development of regenerative medicine protocols.
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