Surface Modification of Polymers for Tissue Engineering Applications: Arginine Acts as a Sticky Protein Equivalent for Viable Cell Accommodation

Hydrophobic polymers, for their favorable mechanical properties, are a popular choice as permanent bioimplants. These materials remain absolutely bioinert for years, but throw up challenges when it comes to fast integration with healthy tissue. Addressing this, herein, we present a surface-modification technique of converting the hydrophobic surface of a polymeric film into a hydrophilic one using a layer-by-layer assembly process involving gold nanoparticles and small molecules like amino acids. These films showed much improved animal cell (murine fibroblast) adherence properties compared to commercially available tissue culture plates. Moreover, arginine-modified films exhibited a nearly equivalent cell viability compared to the films modified with the natural extracellular matrix component fibronectin. The surface hydrophilicity and roughness of our novel film were characterized by contact angle measurement and atomic force microscopy. Cell counting, fluorescence microscopy, cell viability, and collagen estimation assay were employed to demonstrate that our film favored a much improved cell adherence, and accommodation in comparison to the commercially available tissue culture plates.