Promoting cell proliferation by diamond and graphene

Two profoundly different carbon allotropes – nanocrystalline diamond (NCD) and graphene (G) – are of considerable interest from the viewpoint of a wide range of biomedical applications including implant coating, drug and gene delivery, cancer therapy, and biosensing. Within a close cooperation with the Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry (Dr. M. Kalbac) and the Charles University (Dr. M. Hubalek Kalbacova), we investigated osteoblast adhesion and proliferation on nanocrystalline diamond and graphene. The cultivation experiments were provided under various conditions such as different wettability, topography, and the presence or absence of protein interlayers between cells and the substrate. In vitro experiments have revealed a significantly higher degree of cell proliferation on graphene than on nanocrystalline diamond and a tissue culture polystyrene control material. Proliferation was promoted, in particular, by hydrophobic graphene with a large number of nanoscale wrinkles independent of the presence of a protein interlayer, i.e., substrate fouling is not a problematic issue in this respect. Nanowrinkled hydrophobic graphene, thus, exhibited superior characteristics for those biomedical applications where high cell proliferation is required under differing conditions. On the other hand, nanocrystalline diamond films exhibited more appropriate applications in coating of implants due to tailorable properties (roughness, surface wettability and atomic/molecular functionalization, etc.).
The work was published in Small 12 (2016) 2499-2509, doi: 10.1002/smll.201503749.

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