Boron nitride nanotube-mediated stimulation modulates F/G-actin ratio and mechanical properties of human dermal fibroblasts

  • Leonardo Ricotti
  • Ricardo Pires das Neves
  • Gianni Ciofani
  • Claudio Canale
  • Simone Nitti
  • Virgilio Mattoli
  • Barbara Mazzolai
  • Lino Ferreira
  • Arianna Menciassi
Research Paper


F/G-actin ratio modulation is known to have an important role in many cell functions and in the regulation of specific cell behaviors. Several attempts have been made in the latest decades to finely control actin production and polymerization, in order to promote certain cell responses. In this paper we demonstrate the possibility of modulating F/G-actin ratio and mechanical properties of normal human dermal fibroblasts by using boron nitride nanotubes dispersed in the culture medium and by stimulating them with ultrasound transducers. Increasing concentrations of nanotubes were tested with the cells, without any evidence of cytotoxicity up to 10 μg/ml concentration of nanoparticles. Cells treated with nanoparticles and ultrasound stimulation showed a significantly higher F/G-actin ratio in comparison with the controls, as well as a higher Young’s modulus. Assessment of Cdc42 activity revealed that actin nucleation/polymerization pathways, involving Rho GTPases, are probably influenced by nanotube-mediated stimulation, but they do not play a primary role in the significant increase of F/G-actin ratio of treated cells, such effect being mainly due to actin overexpression.


F/G-actin ratio Intracellular stimulation Cytoskeleton organization Piezoelectric nanoparticles Cell mechanical properties 



Authors would like to thank Mr. Carlo Filippeschi for his invaluable help during all clean room procedures and Prof. Liberato Manna for his support during the IPC-MS analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonardo Ricotti
    • 1
  • Ricardo Pires das Neves
    • 4
    • 5
  • Gianni Ciofani
    • 2
  • Claudio Canale
    • 3
  • Simone Nitti
    • 3
  • Virgilio Mattoli
    • 2
  • Barbara Mazzolai
    • 2
  • Lino Ferreira
    • 4
    • 5
  • Arianna Menciassi
    • 1
  1. 1.The BioRobotics InstituteScuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPontederaItaly
  2. 2.Center for Micro-BioRobotics @ SSSAIstituto Italiano di TecnologiaPontederaItaly
  3. 3.Istituto Italiano di TecnologiaGenoaItaly
  4. 4.Biocant - Center of Innovation and BiotechnologyCantanhede, CoimbraPortugal
  5. 5.Center for Neurosciences and Cell BiologyCoimbraPortugal

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