The surface topography and chemistry of titanium implants are important factors for successful osseointegration. However, chemical modification of an implant surface using currently available methods often results in the disruption of topographical features and the loss of beneficial effects during the shelf life of the implant. Therefore, the aim of this study was to apply the recently highlighted portable non-thermal atmospheric pressure plasma jet (NTAPPJ), elicited from one of two different gas sources (nitrogen and air), to TiO2 nanotube surfaces to further improve their osteogenic properties while preserving the topographical morphology. The surface treatment was performed before implantation to avoid age-related decay. The surface chemistry and morphology of the TiO2 nanotube surfaces before and after the NTAPPJ treatment were determined using a field-emission scanning electron microscope, a surface profiler, a contact angle goniometer, and an X-ray photoelectron spectroscope. The MC3T3-E1 cell viability, attachment and morphology were confirmed using calcein AM and ethidium homodimer-1 staining, and analysis of gene expression using rat mesenchymal stem cells was performed using a real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. The results indicated that both portable nitrogen- and air-based NTAPPJ could be used on TiO2 nanotube surfaces easily and without topographical disruption. NTAPPJ resulted in a significant increase in the hydrophilicity of the surfaces as well as changes in the surface chemistry, which consequently increased the cell viability, attachment and differentiation compared with the control samples. The nitrogen-based NTAPPJ treatment group exhibited a higher osteogenic gene expression level than the air-based NTAPPJ treatment group due to the lower atomic percentage of carbon on the surface that resulted from treatment. It was concluded that NTAPPJ treatment of TiO2 nanotube surfaces results in an increase in cellular activity. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that this treatment leads to improved osseointegration in vitro.
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© 2014 Seo et al.
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