Tailorable hierarchical structures of biomimetic hydroxyapatite micro/nano particles promoting endocytosis and osteogenic differentiation of stem cells†
Hydroxyapatite (HA) micro/nano particles show great promise as artificial bone and dental substitutes, or drug carrier systems. However, the precise regulation of hydroxyapatite micro/nano particles with controllable physicochemical properties (such as hierarchical structure, particle size, potential and crystallinity) is still a challenge. Furthermore, the effects of different hierarchical structures on biological responses have been rarely reported. Herein, the HA particles with a precisely tailored micro/nano hierarchical structure have been developed using an elaborate biomimetic synthesis technology. Three representative particles, namely, micro/nano needle-like HA particles, micro/nano rod-like HA particles, and micro/nano flake-like HA particles, were featured to evaluate their biological responses to stem cells. The pore structure facilitated the adsorption of serum adhesive proteins, which together with the unique hierarchical architecture of micro/nano flake-like HA particles remarkably promoted the endocytosis efficiency in a concentration-dependent manner. The qRT-PCR together with RNA-seq and western blot analyses showed that micro/nano flake-like HA particles more significantly up-regulated the expression of genes and production of proteins related to osteogenic differentiation among the three particles through the activated ERK/MAPK signalling pathway. RNA-seq further revealed a complex mechanism of cell interface events, suggesting that the hierarchical architecture of HA particles is of crucial importance for the regulation of actin cytoskeleton involved in the modulation of cell adhesion which positively stimulated osteogenic differentiation of stem cells. Moreover, the endocytosis of particles into lysosomes resulted in an increase in the intracellular Ca2+ levels, which activated possible intracellular Ca2+-mediated signaling cascades (Ras/cAMP/Rap1/MAPK signaling pathways) related to osteogenic differentiation of stem cells. Our findings shed light on the effects of different hierarchical structures of HA particles on stem cell differentiation and contribute to the optimal design of implant materials.