Stabilisation of cables of fibronectin with micromolar concentrations of copper: cell substrate properties

Zubair Ahmed, Anita Briden, Susan Hall, Robert A. Brown

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26 Citations (Scopus)


We have previously described the production of large cables of fibronectin, a large extracellular matrix cell adhesion glycoprotein, which has a potential application in tissue engineering. Here we have stabilised these cables for longer survival and looked at their ultrastructural cell-substrate behaviour in vitro. Dissolution experiments showed that low concentrations of copper not only caused significant material stabilisation but left pores which could promote cell ingrowth, as we have previously reported with Fn-mats. Indeed, the greatest amount of cell ingrowth was observed for copper treated cables. Immunostaining showed S-100(+) multi-layers of cells around the edge of cables while ultrastructural analysis confirmed the presence of a mixture of fibroblasts and bipolar cells associated with fragments of basal lamina, which is a Schwann cell phenotype. Interestingly, the outermost layers of cells consisted of S-100(-) cells, presumed fibroblasts, apparently 'capping' the Schwann cells. Toxicity tests revealed that Schwann cells were only able to grow at the lowest concentration of copper used (1microM) while fibroblasts grew at all concentrations tested. These results could be used to design biomaterials with optimum properties for promoting cellular ingrowth and survival in tissue engineered grafts which may be used to improve peripheral nerve repair.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-812
Number of pages10
Issue number5
Early online date16 Sept 2003
Publication statusPublished - 29 Feb 2004


  • copper
  • nerve regeneration
  • fibroblasts
  • Schwarm cells
  • fibronectin


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