The current development of nanobiotechnologies requires a better understanding of
cell-surface interactions on the nanometre scale. Recently, advances in nanoscale
patterning and detection have allowed the fabrication of appropriate substrates and
the study of cell-substrate interactions. In this review we discuss the methods currently
available for nanoscale patterning and their merits, as well as techniques for controlling
the surface chemistry of materials at the nanoscale without changing the nanotopography
and the possibility of truly characterizing the surface chemistry at the nanoscale.
We then discuss the current knowledge of how a cell can interact with a substrate
at the nanoscale and the effect of size, morphology, organization and separation of
nanofeatures on cell response. Moreover, cell-substrate interactions are mediated
by the presence of proteins adsorbed from biological fluids on the substrate. Many
questions remain on the effect of nanotopography on protein adsorption. We review
papers related to this point. As all these parameters have an influence on cell response,
it is important to develop specific studies to point out their relative influence,
as well as the biological mechanisms underlying cell responses to nanotopography.
This will be the basis for future research in this field. An important topic in tissue
engineering is the effect of nanoscale topography on bacteria, since cells have to
compete with bacteria in many environments. The limited current knowledge of this
topic is also discussed in the light of using topography to encourage cell adhesion
while limiting bacterial adhesion. We also discuss current and prospective applications
of cell-surface interactions on the nanoscale. Finally, based on questions raised
previously that remain to be solved in the field, we propose future directions of
research in materials science to help elucidate the relative influence of the physical
and chemical aspects of nanotopography on bacteria and cell response with the aim
of contributing to the development of nanobiotechnologies.
2010 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.