Nitrogen-doped titanium dioxide films fabricated via magnetron sputtering for vascular stent biocompatibility improvement

J Colloid Interface Sci. 2022 Nov 15:626:101-112. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2022.06.114. Epub 2022 Jun 24.


Nowadays, vascular stents are commonly used to treat cardiovascular diseases. This article focuses on the influence of nitrogen doping of titanium dioxide thin films, utilized for coating metallic stents to improve their biological properties and biocompatibility. The hereby-investigated titanium oxide thin films are fabricated by magnetron sputtering in a reactive gas atmosphere consisting of argon and oxygen in the first case and argon, nitrogen and oxygen in the second case. Control of the nitrogen and oxygen gas flow rates, and hence their mixing ratios, allows adjustment of the nitrogen-doping level within the titanium dioxide thin films. A correlation of the thin film internal structure on the in vitro behavior of human mesenchymal stem cells derived from adipose tissue is hereby demonstrated. Different nitrogen doping levels affect the surface energy, the wettability, the cell adhesion and thus the cellular proliferation on top of the thin films. The surface colonization of cells on titanium dioxide thin films decreases up to a nitrogen-doping level of ∼ 3.75 at.%, which is associated with a decreasing polar component of the surface energy. For non-doped titanium dioxide thin films, a weak chondrogenesis of adult human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells with lower chondrogenic differentiation compared to glass is observed. An increasing nitrogen-doping level leads to linear increase in the chondrogenic differentiation rate, which is comparable to the control value of uncoated glass. Other investigated differentiated cell types do not display this behavior.

Keywords: Cell colonization; Cell differentiation; Mesenchymal stem cells; Nitrogen-doping; Titanium dioxide.

MeSH terms

  • Argon
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing
  • Nitrogen / chemistry
  • Nitrogen Dioxide*
  • Oxygen
  • Stents
  • Titanium* / chemistry
  • Titanium* / pharmacology


  • titanium dioxide
  • Argon
  • Titanium
  • Nitrogen
  • Nitrogen Dioxide
  • Oxygen