Cellular adhesion is essential for successful integration of dental implants. Rapid soft tissue integration is important to create a seal around the implant and prevent infections, which commonly cause implant failure and can result in bone loss. In addition, soft tissue management is important to obtain good dental aesthetics. We previously demonstrated that the salivary peptide histatin 1 (Hst1) causes a more than 2-fold increase in the ability of human adherent cells to attach and spread on a glass surface. Cells treated with Hst1 attached more rapidly and firmly to the substrate and to each other. In the current study, we examine the potential application of Hst1 for promotion of dental implant integration. Our results show that Hst1 enhances the attachment and spreading of soft tissue cell types (oral epithelial cells and fibroblasts) to titanium (Ti) and hydroxyapatite (HAP), biomaterials that have found wide applications as implant material in dentistry and orthopedics. For improved visualization of cell adhesion to Ti, we developed a novel technique that uses sputtering to deposit a thin, transparent layer of Ti onto glass slides. This approach allows detailed, high-resolution analysis of cell adherence to Ti in real time. Furthermore, our results suggest that Hst1 has no negative effects on cell survival. Given its natural occurrence in the oral cavity, Hst1 could be an attractive agent for clinical application. Importantly, even though Hst1 is specific for saliva of humans and higher primates, it stimulated the attachment and spreading of canine cells, paving the way for preclinical studies in canine models.
Keywords: dental implant(s); epithelia; fibroblast(s); histatins; hydroxyapatite; osteoblast(s).