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Directed collisions between epithelial cells and fibroblasts in vitro on micromachined substrata Damji, Amin


Dental implants contact several cell populations in vivo including fibroblasts (F) and epithelial (E) cells, but there is little information on whether different implant materials or surface topographies alter cell interactions. In this study F and E cells were cultured separately or in combination on smooth or grooved titanium surfaces. Grooves 40 μm wide and 3 μm deep, separated by ridges 40 μm wide were placed in silicon by micromachining, a technique originally developed for the fabrication of microelectronic components, and these surfaces, or their epoxy replicas, were coated with titanium by vacuum deposition (99). E cells from porcine periodontal ligament and F from human gingiva were cultured on grooved as well as control flat surfaces as described previously (102), and cell interactions were observed using reflected light differential interference contrast optics. Fibroblasts moved significantly faster on grooved surfaces, but the speed of E-cell locomotion was not significantly altered. The grooves, however, guided the direction of locomotion for both cell types. When cultured on grooved surfaces in such a manner that the F and E cells collided head-on, the F, but not the E cells, frequently demonstrated contact inhibition of movement. However, after such collisions, significantly more F continued to invade the E cell sheet than was observed after F-E collisions on flat surfaces. A possible explanation of these observations is that the grooved surface produces and maintains F-cell polarity so that the direction of cell locomotion is less readily altered by cell-cell interactions.

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