Tapping basement membrane motifs: Oral junctional epithelium for surface-mediated soft tissue attachment to prevent failure of percutaneous devices

Acta Biomater. 2022 Mar 15:141:70-88. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2021.12.030. Epub 2021 Dec 29.


Teeth, long-lasting percutaneous organs, feature soft tissue attachment through adhesive structures, hemidesmosomes, in the junctional epithelium basement membrane adjacent to teeth. This soft tissue attachment prevents bacterial infection of the tooth despite the rich - and harsh - microbial composition of the oral cavity. Conversely, millions of percutaneous devices (catheters, dental, and orthopedic implants) fail from infection yearly. Standard of care antibiotic usage fuels antimicrobial resistance and is frequently ineffective. Infection prevention strategies, like for dental implants, have failed in generating durable soft tissue adhesion - like that seen with the tooth - to prevent bacterial colonization at the tissue-device interface. Here, inspired by the impervious natural attachment of the junctional epithelium to teeth, we synthesized four cell adhesion peptide (CAPs) nanocoatings, derived from basement membranes, to promote percutaneous device soft tissue attachment. The two leading nanocoatings upregulated integrin-mediated hemidesmosomes, selectively increased keratinocyte proliferation compared to fibroblasts, which cannot form hemidesmosomes, and expression of junctional epithelium adhesive markers. CAP nanocoatings displayed marked durability under simulated clinical conditions and the top performer CAP nanocoating was validated in a percutaneous implant murine model. Basement membrane CAP nanocoatings, inspired by the tooth and junctional epithelium, may provide an alternative anti-infective strategy for percutaneous devices to mitigate the worldwide threat of antimicrobial resistance. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Prevention and management of medical device infection is a significant healthcare challenge. Overzealous antibiotic use has motivated alternative material innovations to prevent infection. Here, we report implant cell adhesion peptide nanocoatings that mimic a long-lasting, natural "medical device," the tooth, through formation of cell adhesive structures called hemidesmosomes. Such nanocoatings sidestep the use of antimicrobial or antibiotic elements to form a soft-tissue seal around implants. The top performing nanocoatings prompted expression of hemidesmosomes and defensive factors to mimic the tooth and was validated in an animal model. Application of cell adhesion peptide nanocoatings may provide an alternative to preventing, rather that necessarily treating, medical device infection across a range of device indications, like dental implants.

Keywords: Bioinspired interface; Hemidesmosome; Infection; Junctional epithelium; Peptides.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Basement Membrane
  • Dental Implants*
  • Epithelial Attachment*
  • Epithelium
  • Mice
  • Peptides
  • Titanium / chemistry


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Dental Implants
  • Peptides
  • Titanium