Benchtop Plasma Treatment of Titanium Surfaces Enhances Cell Response

Michael B. Berger, Kyla B. Bosh, D. Joshua Cohen, Barbara D. Boyan, Zvi Schwartz


Objective: Modifications to implant surface properties, including topography, chemistry, and wettability, alter immune response, osteoblast differentiation of bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs), and implant integration in vivo. Dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma treatment has been used to sterilize surfaces and remove adsorbed carbon, improving wettability. However, unless it is used immediately prior to placement, ambient atmospheric hydrocarbon rapidly adheres to the surface, thereby reducing its hydrophilicity. Moreover, this method is not practical in many clinical settings. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an on-site benchtop modification technique for implants at the time of placement, consisting of a DBD plasma that is used to sterilize implants that are pre-packaged in a vacuum. Effects of the plasma treatment on implant surface properties and cellular response of MSCs and osteoblasts were assessed in vitro.

Methods: Titanium-aluminum-vanadium implant surfaces were grit-blasted (GB) or grit-blasted and acid-etched (AE), and packaged under vacuum. AE surfaces were also plasma-treated using the benchtop device (GB + AE) and then removed from the vacuum.GB surface morphology was altered with AE but AE microroughness was not changed with the plasma treatment. Plasma treatment increased the surface wettability but did not alter surface atomic concentrations of titanium, oxygen, or carbon.

Results: MSCs and osteoblast-like cells (MG63 s) produced increased concentrations of osteocalcin, osteopontin, and osteoprotegerin after plasma-treatment of AE surfaces compared to non-plasma-treated AE surfaces; production of IL6 was reduced and IL10 was. Aging GB +AE surfaces for 7 days after plasma treatment but still in the vacuum environment reduced the effectiveness of plasma on cellular response. Significance. Overall, these data suggest that the application of benchtop plasma at the time of implant placement can alter the surface free energy of an implant surface without modifying the surface chemical composition and enhance the differentiation and activity of MSCs and osteoblasts that are in contact with these implant surfaces.

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