Intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prostheses versus dental implants: a comparison between keratinocyte and gingival epithelial cell adhesion in vitro

C. J. Pendegrass, H. T. Lancashire, C. Fontaine, G. Chan, P. Hosseini, G. W. Blunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infection is the primary failure modality for transcutaneous implants because the skin breach provides a route for pathogens to enter the body. Intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prostheses (ITAP) are being developed to overcome this problem by creating a seal at the skin-implant interface. Oral gingival epithelial cell attachment creates an infection-free seal around dental implants. However, this has yet to be achieved consistently outside of the oral environment. Epithelial cells attach to metal substrates by means of hemidesmosomes and focal adhesions. Their density per unit cell is an indicator of attachment strength. We postulate that gingival epithelial cells express more hemidesmosomes and focal adhesions at earlier time points, compared with epidermal keratinocytes, and this increased speed and strength of attachment may be the reason why an infection-free seal is often achieved around dental implants but less frequently around ITAP. The aim of this study was to compare epidermal keratinocyte with oral gingival cell attachment on titanium alloy in vitro, to determine whether these two cell types differ in their speed and strength of attachment. We aimed to test the hypothesis that gingival cells up-regulate focal adhesion and hemidesmosome formation at earlier time points compared with extra-oral keratinocytes. To test this hypothesis we cultured epidermal keratinocytes and oral gingival cells on titanium alloy substrates and assessed cell attachment by focal adhesions and hemidesmosome expression at 4, 24, 48 and 72 hours. Formation and expression of hemidesmosomes temporally lagged behind that of focal adhesions in both cell types. Gingival derived cells up-regulated focal adhesion and hemidesmosome expression at earlier time points compared with epidermal keratinocytes. Hemidesmosome expression in oral gingival cells was 3 times greater compared with epidermal keratinocytes at 4 hours. Our findings indicate that earlier attachment may be key to the success of the dental implant transcutaneous interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-249
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Cells and Materials
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2015


  • Alloys
  • Amputation
  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dental Implants
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Focal Adhesions
  • Gingiva
  • Hemidesmosomes
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Sheep
  • Surface Properties
  • Time Factors
  • Titanium
  • Vinculin
  • Comparative Study


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