Regulating cell behaviors on micropillar topographies affected by interfacial energy
Micro/sub-micro substrate topography plays an important role in cell morphology and function. By localizing individual hepatic stellate cells on different micropillar topographies, we found that the cell morphology was thus greatly influenced due to the cell location. As a simple physical model showed, the morphological response of cells to micropillar topography can be triggered by a minimum interfacial energy. In particular, an established topography with a spacing of 2.5 μm and pillar diameter of 5 μm was found to be able to change the expression of E-cadherin and α-smooth muscle actin. It suggested that the size of the established topography might be closely related to cell epithelial–mesenchymal transition. This study has potential significance in mimicking the size of Disse's space in pathological conditions and advanced the understanding of the physical mechanisms of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis.