Attachment of astroglial cells to microfabricated pillar arrays of different geometries

A. M.P. Turner, N. Dowell, S. W.P. Turner, L. Kam, M. Isaacson, J. N. Turner, H. G. Craighead, W. Shain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


We studied the attachment of astroglial cells on smooth silicon and arrays of silicon pillars and wells with various widths and separations. Standard semiconductor industry photolithographic techniques were used to fabricate pillar arrays and wells in single-crystal silicon. The resulting pillars varied in width from 0.5 to 2.0 μm, had interpillar gaps of 1.0-5.0 μm, and were 1.0 μm in height. Arrays also contained 1.0-μm-deep wells that were 0.5 μm in diameter and separated by 0.5-2.0 μm. Fluorescence, reflectance, and confocal light microscopies as well as scanning electron microscopy were used to quantify cell attachment, describe cell morphologies, and study the distribution of cytoskeletal proteins actin and vinculin on surfaces with pillars, wells, and smooth silicon. Seventy percent of LRM55 astroglial cells displayed a preference for pillars over smooth silicon, whereas only 40% preferred the wells to the smooth surfaces. Analysis of variance statistics performed on the data sets yielded values of p > ~.5 for the comparison between pillar data sets and < ~.0003 in the comparison between pillar and well data sets. Actin and vinculin distributions were highly polarized in cells found on pillar arrays. Scanning electron microscopy clearly demonstrated that cells made contact with the tops of the pillars and did not reach down into the spaces between pillars even when the interpillar gap was 5.0 μm. These experiments support the use of surface topography to direct the attachment, growth, and morphology of cells. These surfaces can be used to study fundamental cell properties such as cell attachment, proliferation, and gene expression. Such topography might also be used to modify implantable medical devices such as neural implants and lead to future developments in tissue engineering. (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-441
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 5 2000


  • Astroglial cells
  • LRM55 cells
  • Pillars
  • Silicon
  • Wells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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