Surface topography-induced lineage commitment of human bone marrow stem cells (hBMSCs) has been reported. However, this effect on hBMSC differentiation toward retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)-like cells has not been explored. Herein, a family of cell culture substrates called binary colloidal crystals (BCCs) was used to stimulate hBMSCs into RPE-like cells without induction factors. Two BCCs, named SiPS (silica (Si)/polystyrene (PS)) and SiPSC (Si/carboxylated PS), having similar surface topographies but different surface chemistry was used for cell culture. The result showed that cell proliferation was no difference between the two BCCs and tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS) control. However, the cell attachment, spreading area, and aspect ratio between surfaces were significantly changed. For example, cells displayed more elongated on SiPS (aspect ratio ~7.0) than those on SiPSC and TCPS (~2.0). The size of focal adhesions on SiPSC (~1.6 µm2) was smaller than that on the TCPS (~2.5 µm2). qPCR results showed that hBMSCs expressed higher RPE progenitor genes (i.e., MITF and PAX6) on day 15, and mature RPE genes (i.e., CRALBP and RPE65) on day 30 on SiPS than TCPS. On the other hand, the expression of optical vesicle or neuroretina genes (i.e., MITF and VSX2) was upregulated on day 15 on SiPSC compared to the TCPS. This study reveals that hBMSCs could be modulated into different cell subtypes depending on the BCC combinations. This study shows the potential of BCCs in controlling stem cell differentiation.
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