Contributions of surface topography and cytotoxicity to the macrophage response to zinc oxide nanorods. Academic Article uri icon


  • Macrophages associated with implanted biomaterials are primary mediators of chronic inflammation and foreign body reaction to the implant. Hence, various approaches have been investigated to modulate macrophage interactions with biomaterial surfaces to mitigate inflammatory responses. Nanostructured materials possess unique surface properties, and nanotopography has been reported to modulate cell adhesion and viability in a cell type-dependent manner. Zinc oxide (ZnO) has been investigated in a number of biomedical applications and surfaces presenting well-controlled nanorod structures of ZnO have recently been developed. In order to investigate the influence of nanotopography on macrophage adhesive response, we evaluated macrophage adhesion and viability on ZnO nanorods, compared to a relatively flat sputtered ZnO controls and using glass substrates for reference. We found that although macrophages are capable of initially adhering to and spreading on ZnO nanorod substrates, the number of adherent macrophages on ZnO nanorods was reduced compared to ZnO flat substrate and glass. Additionally adherent macrophage number on ZnO flat substrate was reduced as compared to glass. While these data suggest nanotopography may modulate macrophage adhesion, reduced cell viability on both sputtered and nanorod ZnO substrate indicates appreciable toxicity associated with ZnO. Cell death was apparently not apoptotic, given the lack of activated caspase-3 immunostaining. A decrease in viable macrophage numbers when ZnO substrates were present in the same media verified the role of ZnO substrate dissolution, and dissolved levels of Zn in culture media were quantified. In order to determine long-term physiological responses, ZnO nanorod-coated and sputtered ZnO-coated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) discs were implanted subcutaneously in mice for 14 d. Upon implantation, both ZnO-coated discs resulted in a discontinuous cellular fibrous capsule indicative of unresolved inflammation, in contrast to uncoated PET discs, which resulted in typical foreign body capsule formation. In conclusion, although ZnO substrates presenting nanorod topography have previously been shown to modulate cellular adhesion in a topography-dependent fashion for specific cell types, this work demonstrates that for primary murine macrophages, cell adhesion and viability correlate to both nanotopography and toxicity of dissolved Zn, parameters which are likely interdependent.

published proceedings

  • Biomaterials

author list (cited authors)

  • Zaveri, T. D., Dolgova, N. V., Chu, B. H., Lee, J., Wong, J., Lele, T. P., Ren, F., & Keselowsky, B. G.

citation count

  • 120

complete list of authors

  • Zaveri, Toral D||Dolgova, Natalia V||Chu, Byung Hwan||Lee, Jiyeon||Wong, Joey||Lele, Tanmay P||Ren, Fan||Keselowsky, Benjamin G

publication date

  • April 2010