An industrially feasible process for the fast mass-production of molded polymeric micro-patterned substrates is here presented. Microstructured polystyrene (PS) surfaces were obtained through micro injection molding (μIM) technique on directly patterned stamps realized with a new zirconia-based hybrid spin-on system able to withstand 300 cycles at 90 °C. The use of directly patterned stamps entails a great advantage on the overall manufacturing process as it allows a fast, flexible, and simple one-step process with respect to the use of milling, laser machining, electroforming techniques, or conventional lithographic processes for stamp fabrication. Among the different obtainable geometries, we focused our attention on PS replicas reporting 2, 3, and 4 μm diameter pillars with 8, 9, 10 μm center-to-center distance, respectively. This enabled us to study the effect of the substrate topography on human mesenchymal stem cells behavior without any osteogenic growth factors. Our data show that microtopography affected cell behavior. In particular, calcium deposition and osteocalcin expression enhanced as diameter and interpillar distance size increases, and the 4-10 surface was the most effective to induce osteogenic differentiation.
Keywords: hybrid sol−gel system; microinjection molding; osteogenesis of hMSCs; polystyrene micropatterns; stem cells.