Chemical modification of titanium surfaces for covalent attachment of biological molecules

A. Nanci, J. D. Wuest, L. Peru, P. Brunet, V. Sharma, S. Zalzal, M. D. McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

436 Scopus citations


The surface of implantable biomaterials is in direct contact with the host tissue and plays a critical role in determining biocompatibility. In order to improve the integration of implants, it is desirable to control interfacial reactions such that nonspecific adsorption of proteins is minimized and tissue-healing phenomena can be controlled. In this regard, our goal has been do develop a method to functionalize oxidized titanium surfaces by the covalent immobilization of bioactive organic molecules. Titanium first was chemically treated with a mixture of sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide to eliminate surface contaminants and to produce a consistent and reproducible titanium oxide surface layer. An intermediary aminoalkylsilane spacer molecule was then covalently linked to the oxide layer, followed by the covalent binding of either alkaline phosphatase or albumin to the free terminal NH2 groups using glutaraldehyde as a coupling agent. Surface analyses following coating procedures consisted of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Enzymatic activity of coupled alkaline phosphatase was assayed colorimetrically, and surface coverage by bound albumin was evaluated by SEM visualization of colloidal gold immunolabeling. Our results indicate that the linkage of the aminoalkylsilane to the oxidized surface is stable and that bound proteins such alkaline phosphatase and albumin retain their enzymatic activity and antigenicity, respectively. The density of immunolabeling for albumin suggests that the binding and surface coverage obtained is in excess of what would be expected for inducing biological activity. In conclusion, this method offers the possibility of covalently linking selected molecules with known biological activity to oxidized titanium surfaces in order to guide and promote the tissue healing that occurs during implant integration in bone and soft tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-335
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1998


  • Bioactive coating
  • Covalent attachment
  • Immobilization
  • Silanization
  • Titanium


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