Cellular response to surface morphology: Electrospinning and computational modeling

Surface properties of biomaterials, such as chemistry and morphology, have a major role in modulating cellular behavior and therefore impact on the development of high-performance devices for biomedical applications, such as scaffolds for tissue engineering and systems for drug delivery. Opportunely-designed micro- and nanostructures provides a unique way of controlling cell-biomaterial interaction. This mini-review discusses the current research on the use of electrospinning (extrusion of polymer nanofibers upon the application of an electric field) as effective technique to fabricate patterns of micro- and nano-scale resolution, and the corresponding biological studies. The focus is on the effect of morphological cues, including fiber alignment, porosity and surface roughness of electrospun mats, to direct cell migration and to influence cell adhesion, differentiation and proliferation. Experimental studies are combined with computational models that predict and correlate the surface composition of a biomaterial with the response of cells in contact with it. The use of predictive models can facilitate the rational design of new bio-interfaces.