Surface Chemical Gradient Affects the Differentiation of Human Adipose-Derived Stem Cells via ERK1/2 Signaling Pathway

Xujie Liu, Shengjun Shi, Qingling Feng, Akash Bachhuka, Wei He, Qianli Huang, Ranran Zhang, Xing Yang, Krasimir Vasilev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


To understand the role of surface chemistry on cell behavior and the associated molecular mechanisms, we developed and utilized a surface chemical gradient of amine functional groups by carefully adjusting the gas composition of 1,7-octadiene (OD) and allylamine (AA) of the plasma phase above a moving substrate. The chemical gradient surface used in the present work shows an increasing N/C ratio and wettability from the OD side toward the AA side with no change in surface topography. Under standard culture conditions (with serum), human adipose-derived stem cells (hASCs) adhesion and spreading area increased toward the AA side of the gradient. However, there were no differences in cell behavior in the absence of serum. These results, supported by the trends in proteins adsorption on the gradient surface, demonstrated that surface chemistry affects the response of hASCs through cell-adhesive serum proteins, rather than interacting directly with the cells. The expression of p-ERK and the osteogenic differentiation increased toward the AA side of the gradient, while adipogenic differentiation decreased in the same direction; however, when the activation of ERK1/2 was blocked by PD98059, the levels of osteogenic or adipogenic differentiation on different regions of the chemical gradient were the same. This indicates that ERK1/2 may be an important downstream signaling pathway of surface chemistry directed stem cell fate. (Figure Presented).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18473-18482
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • adipose-derived stem cell
  • differentiation
  • ERK1/2 activation
  • plasma polymerization
  • surface chemical gradient


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