The clinical success of a dental implant requires not only an optimum osseointegration, but also the development of a biological sealing; i.e., a soft tissue seal around the transmucosal part of the implant. A promising approach to improve the biological seal of dental implants is the biomimetic modification of titanium surfaces with proteins or peptides that have specific cell-binding moieties. In this work we investigated the process of immobilising collagen on smooth and rough titanium surfaces and its effect on human dermal fibroblast (HDF) cell response. Titanium samples were activated by either oxygen plasma or acid etching to generate a smooth or nanorough surface, respectively. Subsequently, collagen grafting was achieved by either physisorption or covalent bonding through organosilane chemistry. The biofunctionalised titanium samples were then tested for stability and characterised by fluorescent labelling, wettability, OWLS and XPS studies. Biological characterisation was also performed through HDF adhesion, proliferation and gene expression. Covalent-bonded collagen showed higher stability than physisorbed collagen. A significant overexpression of the genes involved in fibroblast activation and extracellular matrix remodelling was observed in the collagen-coated surfaces. This effect was more pronounced on smooth than on rough surfaces. Immobilised collagen on the smooth plasma-treated surfaces favoured both fibroblast adhesion and activation. This study provides essential information for the design of implants with optimal biological sealing, a key aspect to avoid peri-implantitis and ensure long-lasting implant fixation.
Keywords: Collagen; Fibroblast; Implants; Roughness; Silane; Titanium.
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