Influence of substrate curvature on osteoblast orientation and extracellular matrix deposition

Marcello Pilia*, Teja Guda, Stefanie M. Shiels, Mark R. Appleford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: The effects of microchannel diameter in hydroxyapatite (HAp) substrates on osteoblast behavior were investigated in this study. Microchannels of 100, 250 and 500 μm diameter were created on hydroxyapatite disks. The changes in osteoblast precursor growth, differentiation, extra cellular matrix (ECM) secretion and cell attachment/orientation were investigated as a function of microchannel diameter. Results: Curvature did not impact cellular differentiation, however organized cellular orientation was achieved within the 100 and 250 μm microchannels (mc) after 6 days compared to the 12 days it took for the 500mc group, while the flat substrate remained disorganized. Moreover, the 100, 250 and 500mc groups expressed a specific shift in orientation of 17.45°, 9.05°, and 22.86° respectively in 24 days. The secreted/mineralized ECM showed the 100 and 250mc groups to have higher modulus (E) and hardness (h) (E = 42.6GPa; h = 1.6GPa) than human bone (E = 13.4-25.7GPa; h = 0.47-0.74GPa), which was significantly greater than the 500mc and control groups (p < 0.05). It was determined that substrate curvature affects the cell orientation, the time required for initial response, and the shift in orientation with time. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate the ability of osteoblasts to organize and mineralize differentially in microchannels similar to those found in the osteons of compact bone. These investigations could lead to the development of osteon-like scaffolds to support the regeneration of organized bone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalJournal of Biological Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 3 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Curvature
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Hydroxyapatite
  • Microchannels
  • Nano-indentation
  • Osteon architecture


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