Nitric oxide synthase mediates PC12 differentiation induced by the surface topography of nanostructured TiO2

Margherita Tamplenizza, Cristina Lenardi, Elisa Maffioli, Simona Nonnis, Armando Negri, Stefania Forti, Elisa Sogne, Silvia De Astis, Michela Matteoli, Carsten Schulte, Paolo Milani, Gabriella Tedeschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Substrate nanoscale topography influences cell proliferation and differentiation through mechanisms that are at present poorly understood. In particular the molecular mechanism through which cells 'sense' and adapt to the substrate and activate specific intracellular signals, influencing cells survival and behavior, remains to be clarified. Results: To characterize these processes at the molecular level we studied the differentiation of PC12 cells on nanostructured TiO2 films obtained by supersonic cluster beam deposition. Our findings indicate that, in PC12 cells grown without Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), the roughness of nanostructured TiO2 triggers neuritogenesis by activating the expression of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and the phospho-extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (pERK1/2) signaling. Differentiation is associated with an increase in protein nitration as observed in PC12 cells grown on flat surfaces in the presence of NGF. We demonstrate that cell differentiation and protein nitration induced by topography are not specific for PC12 cells but can be regarded as generalized effects produced by the substrate on different neuronal-like cell types, as shown by growing the human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell line on nanostructured TiO2. Conclusion: Our data provide the evidence that the nitric oxide (NO) signal cascade is involved in the differentiation process induced by nanotopography, adding new information on the mechanism and proteins involved in the neuritogenesis triggered by the surface properties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
JournalJournal of Nanobiotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 11 2013


  • Nanostructured titanium oxide film
  • NOS
  • PC12
  • Tyrosine nitration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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