The understanding of cellular response to the shape of their environment would be of benefit in the development of artificial extracellular environments for potential use in the production of biomimetic surfaces. Specifically, the understanding of how cues from the extracellular environment can be used to understand stem cell differentiation would be of special interest in regenerative medicine.In this paper, the genetic profile of mesenchymal stem cells cultured on two osteogenic nanoscale topographies (pitted surface versus raised islands) are compared with cells treated with dexamethasone, a corticosteroid routinely used to stimulate bone formation in culture from mesenchymal stem cells, using 19k gene microarrays as well as 101 gene arrays specific for osteoblast and endothelial biology.The current studies show that by altering the shape of the matrix a cell response (genomic profile) similar to that achieved with chemical stimulation can be elicited. Here, we show that bone formation can be achieved with efficiency similar to that of dexamethasone with the added benefit that endothelial cell development is not inhibited. We further show that the mechanism of action of the topographies and dexamethasone differs. This could have an implication for tissue engineering in which a simultaneous, targeted, development of a tissue, such as bone, without the suppression of angiogenesis to supply nutrients to the new tissue is required. The results further demonstrate that perhaps the shape of the extracellular matrix is critical to tissue development. © 2008 The Royal Society.
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