Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

George D. Pins, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Kristen L. Billiar, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Marsha W. Rolle, Committee Member




The skin-implant interface of percutaneous devices is generally weak and can fail when excessive loading disrupts the sealing of the interface by dermal and epidermal cells and tissue. As such, the formation of a stable implant-skin junction is a major factor in determining percutaneous implant success. In this study, we used functionalized self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) with discrete surface properties as model systems to assess the effects of biomaterial surface properties on controlling fibronectin (FN) adsorption and keratinocyte spreading and adhesion. The surface properties investigated were charge (positive and negative) and wettability (hydrophobic and hydrophilic). Gold slides prepared with SAMs were incubated with FN overnight. The cell binding sites were quantified on each surface using an antibody that targets the synergy binding site of the cell binding domains (HFN7.1) and the topography of the FN on the surfaces was evaluated with atomic force microscopy. The topography data demonstrated that the availability of cell binding domains is dependent on surface-mediated FN binding orientation. Cell spreading was assessed using a lipid membrane stain, maleimide. The cells were imaged by fluorescence microscopy and the cell area calculated. The percentage of cell adhesion was determined using a centrifugal force assay. Both keratinocyte assays suggested that the charge of the surface was the prominent factor in determining cell function on the surface over the surface wettability. The findings of this study strongly suggest that a positively charged implant surface with a FN coating will enhance the strength of the cutaneous seal around percutaneous implants over an unmodified surface.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Biomedical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





percutaneous seal, keratinocytes, neuroprosthetics, cell adhesion, percutaneous implant