Quantification of carbon nanotube induced adhesion of osteoblast on hydroxyapatite using nano-scratch technique

Nanotechnology. 2011 Sep 2;22(35):355703. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/22/35/355703. Epub 2011 Aug 5.


This paper explores the nano-scratch technique for measuring the adhesion strength of a single osteoblast cell on a hydroxyapatite (HA) surface reinforced with carbon nanotubes (CNTs). This technique efficiently separates out the contribution of the environment (culture medium and substrate) from the measured adhesion force of the cell, which is a major limitation of the existing techniques. Nano-scratches were performed on plasma sprayed hydroxyapatite (HA) and HA-CNT coatings to quantify the adhesion of the osteoblast. The presence of CNTs in HA coating promotes an increase in the adhesion of osteoblasts. The adhesion force and energy of an osteoblast on a HA-CNT surface are 17 ± 2 µN/cell and 78 ± 14 pJ/cell respectively, as compared to 11 ± 2 µN/cell and 45 ± 10 pJ/cell on a HA surface after 1 day of incubation. The adhesion force and energy of the osteoblasts increase on both the surfaces with culture periods of up to 5 days. This increase is more pronounced for osteoblasts cultured on HA-CNT. Staining of actin filaments revealed a higher spreading and attachment of osteoblasts on a surface containing CNTs. The affinity of CNTs to conjugate with integrin and other proteins is responsible for the enhanced attachment of osteoblasts. Our results suggest that the addition of CNTs to surfaces used in medical applications may be beneficial when stronger adhesion of osteoblasts is desired.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Durapatite / chemistry*
  • Durapatite / metabolism
  • Focal Adhesions
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / chemistry*
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism*
  • Surface Properties


  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Durapatite