Cells, surfaces and adhesion

  • J.H. Fitton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis concerns cell adhesion to polymer surfaces with an experimental emphasis on hydrogels. The thesis begins with a review of the literature and a synthesis of recent evidence to describe the process of cell adhesion in a given situation. The importance of understanding integrin-adhesion protein interactions and adhesion protein-surface interactions is emphasised. The experimental chapters describe three areas of investigation. Firstly, in vitro cell culture techniques are used to explore a variety of surfaces including polyethylene glycol methacrylate (PEGMA) substituted hydrogels, sequence distribution modified hydrogels and worn contact lenses. Cell adhesion to PEGMA substituted gels is found to decrease with increases in polyethylene oxide chain length and correlations are made between sequence distribution and adhesion. Worn contact lenses are investigated for their cell adhesion properties in the presence of antibodies to specific adhesion proteins, demonstrating the presence of vitronectin and fibronectin on the lenses. The second experimental chapter addresses divalent cation regulation of integrin mediated cell adhesion. Several cell types and various cations are used. Zinc, previously not regarded as an important cation in the process, is found to inhibit 3T3 cell adhesion to vitronectin that is promoted by other divalent cations. The final experimental chapter concerns cell adhesion and growth on macroporous hydrogels. A variety of freeze-thaw formed porous gels are investiated and found generally to promote cell growth rate.Interpenetrating networkbased gels (IPN) are made porous by elution of dextrin particles of varying size and loading density. These materials provide the basis for synthetic cartilage. Cartilage cells (chondrocytes) plated onto the surface of the porous IPN materials maintain a rounded shape and hence phenotypic function when a critical pore size and density is achieved. In this way, a prospective implant, made porous at the perpendicular edges contacting natural cartilage can be both mechanically stabilised and encourage the maintenance of normal matrix production at the tissue interface.
Date of Award1993
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBrian Tighe (Supervisor)


  • cell adhesion
  • vitronectin
  • polyethylene oxide
  • divalent cations
  • zinc
  • macroporous hydrogels
  • synthetic cartilage

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