Objective: There is a great demand for dental implant surfaces to accelerate the process of peri-implant bone generation to reduce its healing time and enable early loading. To this end, an inverse correlation between the proliferation and functional maturation (differentiation) in osteoblasts presents a challenge for the rapid generation of greater amounts of bone. For instance, osteoblasts exhibit faster differentiation but slower proliferation on micro-roughened titanium surfaces. Using a unique micro-nano-hierarchical topography of TiO2 that mimics biomineralized matrices, this study demonstrates that this challenge can be overcome without the use of biological agents. Methods: Titanium disks of grade 2 commercially pure titanium were prepared by machining (smooth surface). To create a microtexture with peaks and valleys (micropit surface), titanium disks were acid-etched. To create 200-nm TiO2 nanonodules within the micropits (nanonodule-in-micropit surface), TiO2 was sputter-deposited onto the acid-etched surface. Rat bone marrow-derived osteoblasts and NIH3T3 fibroblasts were cultured on machined smooth, micropit, and nanonodule-in-micropit surfaces. Results: Despite the substantially increased surface roughness, the addition of 200-nm nanonodules to micropits increased osteoblast proliferation while enhancing their functional differentiation. In contrast, this nanonodule-in-micropit surface decreased proliferation and function in fibroblasts. Significance: The data suggest the establishment of cell-selectively functionalized nano-in-micro smart titanium surfaces that involve a regulatory effect on osteoblast proliferation, abrogating the inhibitory mechanism on the micropitted surface, while enhancing their functional differentiation. Biomimetic and controllable nature of this nanonodules-in-micropits surface may offer a novel micro-to-nanoscale hierarchical platform to biologically optimize nanofeatures of biomaterials. Particularly, this micro-nano-hybrid surface may be an effective approach to improve current dental implant surfaces for accelerated bone integration.
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