Stem cells respond to nanoscale surface features, with changes in cell growth and differentiation mediated by alterations in cell adhesion. The interaction of nanotopographical features with integrin receptors in the cells focal adhesions alters how the cells adhere to materials surfaces, and defines cell fate through changes in both cell biochemistry and cell morphology. In this Review, we discuss how cell adhesions interact with nanotopography, and we provide insight as to how materials scientists can exploit these interactions to direct stem cell fate and to understand how the behaviour of stem cells in their niche can be controlled. We expect knowledge gained from the study of cell–nanotopography interactions to accelerate the development of next-generation stem cell culture materials and implant interfaces, and to fuel discovery of stem cell therapeutics to support regenerative therapies.
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