The potential of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for implantology and cell-based therapy represents one of the major ongoing research subjects within the last decades. In bone regeneration applications, the various environmental factors including bioactive compounds such as growth factors, chemicals and physical characteristics of biointerfaces are the key factors in controlling and regulating osteogenic differentiation from MSCs. In our study, we have investigated the influence of Lactoferrin (Lf) and Hydroxyapatite (HA) embedded within a biodegradable PEG-PCL copolymer on the osteogenic fate of MSCs, previous studies revealing an anti-inflammatory potential of the coating and osteogenic differentiation of murine pre-osteoblast cells. The copolymer matrix was obtained by the Matrix Assisted Pulsed Laser Evaporation technique (MAPLE) and the composite layers containing the bioactive compounds (Lf, HA, and Lf-HA) were characterised by Scanning Electron Microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy contact angle and surface energy of the analysed coatings were also measured. The characteristics of the composite surfaces were correlated with the viability, proliferation, and morphology of human MSCs (hMSCs) cultured on the developed coatings. All surfaces were found not to exhibit toxicity, as confirmed by the LIVE/DEAD assay. The Lf-HA composite exhibited an increase in osteogenic differentiation of hMSCs, results supported by alkaline phosphatase and mineralisation assays. This is the first report of the capacity of biodegradable composite layers containing Lf to induce osteogenic differentiation from hMSCs, a property revealing its potential for application in bone regeneration.
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