Cell Growth in a Porous Microcellular Structure: Influence of Surface Modification and Nanostructures

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This study investigates the growth, morphology and cell viability of bone cells (osteoblasts) inside microcellular graphitic foam having an interconnected porosity. This type of substrate can be useful as a scaffolding material for tissue growth, but has not been adequately investigated. The influence of various surface treatments was studied: an inorganic hydrophilic coating (silica), an organic coating (collagen), and grafting of carbon nanotubes (CNT) have been reported. It is seen that all foams have acceptable biocompatibility. Silica and collagen coatings tend to have more cell growth along pore walls but do not have any significant influence on overall nuclear density or cell viability. On the other hand, nanotube attachment results in simultaneous increase of cell proliferation, density and viability. These results indicate that attaching carbon nanotubes on surfaces of future implants may provide a hierarchical nanostructure with increased biocompatible surface area for improved cell attachment.