Reduced myofibroblast differentiation on femtosecond laser treated 316LS stainless steel

In-stent restenosis is a common complication after stent surgery which leads to a dangerous wall narrowing of a blood vessel. Laser assisted patterning is one of the effective methods to modify the stent surface to control cell-surface interactions which play a major role in the restenosis. In this current study, 316LS stainless steel substrates are structured by focusing a femtosecond laser beam down to a spot size of 50 μm. By altering the laser induced spot density three distinct surfaces (low density (LD), medium density (MD) and high density (HD)) were prepared. While such surfaces are composed of primary microstructures, due to fast melting and re-solidification by ultra-short laser pulses, nanofeatures are also observed as secondary structures. Following a detailed surface characterization (chemical and physical properties of the surface), we used a well-established co-culture assay of human microvascular endothelial cells and human fibroblasts to check the cell compatibility of the prepared surfaces. The surfaces were analyzed in terms of cell adherence, proliferation, cell morphology and the differentiation of the fibroblast into the myofibroblast, which is a process indicating a general fibrotic shift within a certain tissue. It is observed that myofibroblast proliferation decreases significantly on laser treated samples in comparison to non-treated ones. On the other hand endothelial cell proliferation is not affected by the surface topography which is composed of micro- and nanostructures. Such surfaces may be used to modify stent surfaces for prevention or at least reduction of restenosis.