Development of a method for correlating integrin beta 1 expression and surface characteristics under individual cells
Myers, Meredith A.
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Osseointegration, or the direct integration of an implant into bone tissue, is necessary for implant success. Titanium is commonly used clinically in dental and orthopaedic implants because of its passivating oxide layer, which facilitates osseointegration, and its mechanical properties such as a modulus of elasticity similar to bone. Diverse studies have shown that surface microtopography, chemistry, and surface energy affect osteoblast behavior. The problem with these studies is that they access the average behavior of a culture in response to a substrate and not the behavior of individual cells. The objective of this study was to develop a method for correlating the behavior of individual cells with the characteristics of the surface underneath them. More specifically, this work developed a method to correlate integrin beta-1 (β1) expression with the surface characteristics under individual cells. Integrins are cell surface receptors that bind to specific proteins in the extracellular matrix adsorbed on the implant surface. Previous work has shown that expression of certain integrins is increased when osteoblasts on titanium substrates develop a more differentiated phenotype, and that integrin β1 is necessary for osteoblast response to roughness on titanium substrates. This study used molecular beacons specific to integrin β1 to quantify integrin β1 expression of MG63 cells cultured on titanium disks. A template was designed to coordinate the location of cells using fluorescence microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) in reference to laser etchings on the disks. After live cell imaging, cells were fixed, dried, and critical point dried for focused ion beam (FIB) milling. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) sections of cells identified with high and low integrin β1 molecular beacon intensity were milled, and cells with high and low integrin β1 molecular beacon intensity were also serial sectioned. While our TEM results were inconclusive, SEM images from serial sectioning showed contact points between the cell body and the substrate, consistent with previous results. Cells cultured on pretreatment (PT) or sandblasted acid etched (SLA) titanium surfaces were also serial sectioned, showing that cells on SLA surfaces have more regions of contact between the cells and the substrate than cells on PT surfaces. This work is significant as it is the first study to develop a method to correlate individual cell behavior with the substrate surface characteristics under the individual cells. Previous studies have reported the average cell behavior in response to their substrates, while this work allows for the study of substrate surface characteristics that positively affect integrin β1 expression in individual cells. Further optimization of the fluorescence imaging process and FIB milling process could be done, and the method developed in this study could be used in future studies to investigate surface characteristics after using other fluorescent analyses of cell behavior, such as immunocytochemistry.