Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and osteoblasts respond to the surface electrical charge and topography of biomaterials. This work focuses on the connection between the roughness of calcium phosphate (CP) surfaces and their electrical potential (EP) at the micro- and nanoscales and the possible role of these parameters in jointly affecting human MSC osteogenic differentiation and maturation in vitro. A microarc CP coating was deposited on titanium substrates and characterized at the micro- and nanoscale. Human adult adipose-derived MSCs (hAMSCs) or prenatal stromal cells from the human lung (HLPSCs) were cultured on the CP surface to estimate MSC behavior. The roughness, nonuniform charge polarity, and EP of CP microarc coatings on a titanium substrate were shown to affect the osteogenic differentiation and maturation of hAMSCs and HLPSCs in vitro. The surface EP induced by the negative charge increased with increasing surface roughness at the microscale. The surface relief at the nanoscale had an impact on the sign of the EP. Negative electrical charges were mainly located within the micro- and nanosockets of the coating surface, whereas positive charges were detected predominantly at the nanorelief peaks. HLPSCs located in the sockets of the CP surface expressed the osteoblastic markers osteocalcin and alkaline phosphatase. The CP multilevel topography induced charge polarity and an EP and overall promoted the osteoblast phenotype of HLPSCs. The negative sign of the EP and its magnitude at the micro- and nanosockets might be sensitive factors that can trigger osteoblastic differentiation and maturation of human stromal cells.
Keywords: alkaline phosphatase; human mesenchymal cells; in vitro; micro- and nanoscale; osteocalcin; surface electrical potential; surface roughness.