Bilogical length scale topography enhances cell-substratum adhesion of human corneal epithelial cells

Nancy W. Karuri, Sara Liliensiek, Ana I. Teixeira, George Abrams, Sean Campbell, Paul F. Nealey, Christopher J Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

255 Scopus citations


The basement membrane possesses a rich 3-dimensional nanoscale topography that provides a physical stimulus, which may modulate cell-substratum adhesion. We have investigated the strength of cell-substratum adhesion on nanoscale topographic features of a similar scale to that of the native basement membrane. SV40 human corneal epithelial cells were challenged by well-defined fluid shear, and cell detachment was monitored. We created silicon substrata with uniform grooves and ridges having pitch dimensions of 400-4000 nm using X-ray lithography. F-actin labeling of cells that had been incubated for 24 hours revealed that the percentage of aligned and elongated cells on the patterned surfaces was the same regardless of pitch dimension. In contrast, at the highest fluid shear, a biphasic trend in cell adhesion was observed with cells being most adherent to the smaller features. The 400 nm pitch had the highest percentage of adherent cells at the end of the adhesion assay. The effect of substratum topography was lost for the largest features evaluated, the 4000 nm pitch. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of the cells during and after flow indicated that the aligned and elongated cells on the 400 nm pitch were more tightly adhered compared to aligned cells on the larger patterns. Selected experiments with primary cultured human corneal epithelial cells produced similar results to the SV40 human corneal epithelial cells. These findings have relevance to interpretation of cell-biomaterial interactions in tissue engineering and prosthetic design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3153-3164
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number15
StatePublished - Jul 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell-substratum adhesion
  • Epithelium
  • Nanoscale topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Bilogical length scale topography enhances cell-substratum adhesion of human corneal epithelial cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this