Polymer surface functionalities that control human embryoid body cell adhesion revealed by high throughput surface characterization of combinatorial material microarrays

Jing Yang, Ying Mei, Andrew L. Hook, Michael Taylor, Andrew J. Urquhart, Said R. Bogatyrev, Robert Langer, Daniel G. Anderson, Martyn C. Davies, Morgan R. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Citations (Scopus)


High throughput materials discovery using combinatorial polymer microarrays to screen for new biomaterials with new and improved function is established as a powerful strategy. Here we combine this screening approach with high throughput surface characterization (HT-SC) to identify surface structure function relationships. We explore how this combination can help to identify surface chemical moieties that control protein adsorption and subsequent cellular response. The adhesion of human embryoid body (hEB) cells to a large number (496) of different acrylate polymers synthesized in a microarray format is screened using a high throughput procedure. To determine the role of the polymer surface properties on hEB cell adhesion, detailed HT-SC of these acrylate polymers is carried out using time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF SIMS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), pico litre drop sessile water contact angle (WCA) measurement and atomic force microscopy (AFM). A structure function relationship is identified between the ToF SIMS analysis of the surface chemistry after a fibronectin (Fn) pre-conditioning step and the cell adhesion to each spot using the multivariate analysis technique partial least squares (PLS) regression. Secondary ions indicative of the adsorbed Fn correlate with increased cell adhesion whereas glycol and other functionalities from the polymers are identified that reduce cell adhesion. Furthermore, a strong relationship between the ToF SIMS spectra of bare polymers and the cell adhesion to each spot is identified using PLS regression. This identifies a role for both the surface chemistry of the bare polymer and the pre-adsorbed Fn, as-represented in the ToF SIMS spectra, in controlling cellular adhesion. In contrast, no relationship is found between cell adhesion and wettability, surface roughness, elemental or functional surface composition. The correlation between ToF SIMS data of the surfaces and the cell adhesion demonstrates the ability to identify surface moieties that control protein adsorption and subsequent cell adhesion using ToF SIMS and multivariate analysis. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8827-8838
Number of pages12
Issue number34
Early online date15 Sep 2010
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010



  • microarray
  • high throughput
  • ToF SIMS
  • surface chemistry
  • protein adsorption
  • cell adhesion
  • self-assembled monolayers
  • adsorbed protein films
  • ION mass-spectrometry
  • least-squares regression
  • stem-cells
  • plasmon resonance
  • electron-spectroscopy
  • chemical-analysis
  • biomaterials
  • adsorption

Cite this