Nanoscale topography-induced modulation of fundamental cell behaviors of rabbit corneal keratocytes, fibroblasts, and myofibroblasts

Simon A. Pot, Sara J. Liliensiek, Kathern E. Myrna, Ellison Bentley, James V. Jester, Paul F. Nealey, Christopher J Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Keratocyte-to-myofibroblast differentiation is a key factor in corneal wound healing. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of environmental nanoscale topography on keratocyte, fibroblast, and myofibroblast cell behavior Methods. Primary rabbit corneal keratocytes, fibroblasts, and myofibroblasts were seeded onto planar polyurethane surfaces with six patterned areas, composed of anisotropically ordered grooves and ridges with a 400-, 800-, 1200-, 1600-, 2000-, and 4000-nm pitch (pitch = groove + ridge width). After 24 hours cells were fixed, stained, imaged, and analyzed for cell shape and orientation. For migration studies, cells on each patterned surface were imaged every 10 minutes for 12 hours, and individual cell trajectories and migration rates were calculated Results. Keratocytes, fibroblasts, and myofibroblasts aligned and elongated to pitch sizes larger than 1000 nm. A lower limit to the topographic feature sizes that the cells responded to was identified for all three phenotypes, with a transition zone around the 800- to 1200-nm pitch size. Fibroblasts and myofibroblasts migrated parallel to surface ridges larger than 1000 nm but lacked directional guidance on submicron and nanoscale topographic features and on planar surfaces. Keratocytes remained essentially immobile Conclusions. Corneal stromal cells elongated, aligned, and migrated, differentially guided by substratum topographic features. All cell types failed to respond to topographic features approximating the dimensions of individual stromal fibers. These findings contribute to our understanding of corneal stromal cell biology in health and disease and their interaction with biomaterials and their native extracellular matrix.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1373-1381
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Medicine(all)


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