Outlining cell interaction and inflammatory cytokines on UV-photofunctionalized mixed-phase TiO2 thin film
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Photofunctionalization mediated by ultraviolet (UV) light seems to be a promising approach to improve the physico-chemical characteristics and the biological response of titanium (Ti) dental implants. Seeing that photofunctionalization is able to remove carbon from the surface, besides to promote reactions on the titanium dioxide (TiO2) layer, coating the Ti with a stable TiO2 film could potentialize the UV effect. Thus, here we determined the impact of UV-photofunctionalized mixed-phase (anatase and rutile) TiO2 films on the physico-chemical properties of Ti substrate and cell biology. Mixed-phase TiO2 films were grown by radiofrequency magnetron sputtering on commercially pure titanium (cpTi) discs, and samples were divided as follow: cpTi (negative control), TiO2 (positive control), cpTi UV, TiO2 UV (experimental). Photofunctionalization was performed using UVA (360 nm - 40 W) and UVC (250 nm - 40 W) lamps for 48 h. Surfaces were analyzed in terms of morphology, topography, chemical composition, crystalline phase, wettability and surface free energy. Pre-osteoblastic cells (MC3T3E1) were used to assess cell morphology and adhesion, metabolism, mineralization potential and cytokine secretion (IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-4, IL-6 and IL-17). TiO2-coated surfaces exhibited granular surface morphology and greater roughness. Photofunctionalization increased wettability (p < 0.05) and surface free energy (p < 0.001) on both surface conditions. TiO2-treated groups featured normal cell morphology and spreading, and greater cellular metabolic activity at 2 and 4 days (p < 0.05), whereas UV-photofunctionalized surfaces enhanced cell metabolism, cell adhered area, and calcium deposition (day 14) (p < 0.05). In general, assessed proteins were found slightly affected by either UV or TiO2 treatments. Altogether, our findings suggest that UV-photofunctionalized TiO2 surface has the potential to improve pre-osteoblastic cell differentiation and the ability of cells to form mineral nodules by modifying Ti physico-chemical properties towards a more stable context. UV-modified surfaces modulate the secretion of key inflammatory markers.