Current polyvinylpyrrolidone-modified polysulfone (PVP-PSU) membranes in haemodialysers do not facilitate the attachment and proliferation of renal proximal tubule cells (RPTCs) For bioartificial kidney (BAK) development expensive extracellular matrices are employed to ensure the PVP-PSU membranes can serve as a substrate for RPTCs In this study we modified PSU using an acrylic monomer (am-PSU) and polymerization using ultraviolet irradiation. We demonstrated that on adjusting the PSU or acrylic content of the membranes the wettability and surface chemistry were altered, and this affected the amount of fibronectin (Fn) that was adsorbed onto the membranes Using an integrin blocking assay we ascertained that Fn is an important extracellular matrix component that mediates RPTC attachment The amount of Fn adsorbed also led to different bioresponses of RPTCs, which were evaluated using attachment and proliferation assays and qualitative quantification of vinculin, focal adhesion kinase, zonula occludens and Na+/K+ ATPase Our optimized membrane, am-PSU1 (21 4% C-O groups, 19 1% PVP-PSU, contact angle 71 5-80.80, PVP-PSU. 52.4-67.50), supports a confluent monolayer of RPTCs and prevents creatinine and mulin diffusion from the apical to the basal side, meeting the requirements for application in BAKs However, further in vivo evaluation to assess the full functionality of RPTCs on am-PSU1 is required. (C) 2011 Acta Materialia Inc Published by Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved