Topographical cues, independent of biochemistry, generated by the extracellular matrix may have significant effects upon cellular behavior. Studies have documented that substratum topography has direct effects on the ability of cells to orient themselves, migrate, and produce organized cytoskeletal arrangements. Basement membranes are composed of extracellular matrix proteins and found throughout the vertebrate body, serving as substrata for overlying cellular structures. The topography of basement membranes is a complex meshwork of pores, fibers, ridges, and other features of nanometer sized dimensions. Synthetic surfaces with topographical features have been shown to influence cell behavior. These facts lead to the hypothesis that the topography of the basement membrane plays an important role in regulating cellular behavior in a manner distinct from that of the chemistry of the basement membrane. This paper describes the topography of the basement membrane and reviews the fabrication of synthetic micro- and nano-structured surfaces and the effects of such textured surfaces on cell behavior. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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