The surface topography of synthetic biomaterials is known to play a role in material-driven osteogenesis. Recent studies show that TGFβ signalling also initiates osteogenic differentiation. TGFβ signalling requires the recruitment of TGFβ receptors (TGFβR) to the primary cilia. In this study, we hypothesize that the surface topography of calcium phosphate ceramics regulates stem cell morphology, primary cilia structure and TGFβR recruitment to the cilium associated with osteogenic differentiation. We developed a 2D system using two types of tricalcium phosphate (TCP) ceramic discs with identical chemistry. One sample had a surface topography at micron-scale (TCP-B, with a bigger surface structure dimension) whilst the other had a surface topography at submicron scale (TCP-S, with a smaller surface structure dimension). In the absence of osteogenic differentiation factors, human bone marrow stromal cells (hBMSCs) were more spread on TCP-S than on TCP-B with alterations in actin organization and increased primary cilia prevalence and length. The cilia elongation on TCP-S was similar to that observed on glass in the presence of osteogenic media and was followed by recruitment of transforming growth factor-β RII (p-TGFβ RII) to the cilia axoneme. This was associated with enhanced osteogenic differentiation of hBMSCs on TCP-S, as shown by alkaline phosphatase activity and gene expression for key osteogenic markers in the absence of additional osteogenic growth factors. Similarly, in vivo after a 12-week intramuscular implantation in dogs, TCP-S induced bone formation while TCP-B did not. It is most likely that the surface topography of calcium phosphate ceramics regulates primary cilia length and ciliary recruitment of p-TGFβ RII associated with osteogenesis and bone formation. This bioengineering control of osteogenesis via primary cilia modulation may represent a new type of biomaterial-based ciliotherapy for orthopedic, dental and maxillofacial surgery applications. Statement of Significance The surface topography of synthetic biomaterials plays important roles in material-driven osteogenesis. The data presented herein have shown that the surface topography of calcium phosphate ceramics regulates mesenchymal stromal cells (e.g., human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells, hBMSCs) with respect to morphology, primary cilia structure and TGFβR recruitment to the cilium associated with osteogenic differentiation in vitro. Together with bone formation in vivo, our results suggested a new type of biomaterial-based ciliotherapy for orthopedic, dental and maxillofacial surgery by the bioengineering control of osteogenesis via primary cilia modulation
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