Human osteoblast and fibroblast response to oral implant biomaterials

Plasma-treatment of oral implant biomaterials prior to clinical insertion is envisaged as a potential surface modification method for enhanced implant healing. To investigate a putative effect of plasma-functionalized implant biomaterials on oral tissue cells, this investigation examined the response of alveolar bone osteoblasts and gingival fibroblasts to clinically established zirconia- and titanium-based implant surfaces for bone and soft tissue integration. The biomaterials were either functionalized with oxygen-plasma in a plasma-cleaner or left untreated as controls, and were characterized in terms of topography and wettability. For the biological evaluation, the cell adhesion, morphogenesis, metabolic activity and proliferation were examined, since these parameters are closely interconnected during cell-biomaterial interaction. The results revealed that plasma-functionalization increased implant surface wettability.


Fig: SEM images of ATZ (a), Y-TZP (b) and titanium (c) surfaces for osteoblast culture. Magnifications were set to 1000x (first row) and 5000x (second row). Arrows point to macroscopic grooves and gaps on ceramic surfaces.

The magnitude of this effect thereby depended on surface topography parameters and initial wettability of the biomaterials. Concerning the cell response, plasma-functionalization of smooth surfaces affected initial fibroblast morphogenesis, whereas osteoblast morphology on rough surfaces was mainly influenced by topography. The plasma- and topography-induced differential cell morphologies were however not strong enough to trigger a change in proliferation behaviour. Hence, the results indicate that oxygen plasma-functionalization represents a possible cytocompatible implant surface modification method which can be applied for tailoring implant surface wettability.

Rabel, K., Kohal, RJ., Steinberg, T. et al. Human osteoblast and fibroblast response to oral implant biomaterials functionalized with non-thermal oxygen plasma. Sci Rep 11, 17302 (2021).

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