Cell-material crosstalking at the nanoscale: cues and news

The main challenges of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering is the development of integrated medical devices specifically designed to replace or repair damaged tissues and organs through the development of new generation materials with an appropriate set of properties able to guide and control cell and tissue response. In this context, a novel vision of scaffolds for TE is developing that considers the scaffold as a cell instructive platform able to repair tissue defects by actively direct cell response and guide tissue development by supplying arrays of specific biological signals, both molecular and biophysical, in a controlled spatio-temporal pattern to elicit functional morphogenetic programme. Cell-material interaction occurs through a combination of biochemical and biophysical signals, including interfacial presentation of matricellular cues, topography, mechanical rigidity and hydrophobicity. To date a plethora of biochemical and biophysical materials features have been reported to affect and somehow influence cell function by triggering specific molecular events at the cell-material interface. However the correct way to present a single or an array of signals at cell-material them to elicit a given and predefined cell response still remains unknown. In particular, a better understanding of the role of the material properties and density of distribution of biological sites within the material on cell behaviour needs to be gained in order to establish and optimize design guidelines for these bioactive materials. In this lecture the basic signals that control the dynamics of cell-material interface will be discussed along with the strategies to correctly display and deliver them to the cell. Example of cell-material communication and miscommunication will also be presented.