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Small. 2013 Feb 11;9(3):402-12. doi: 10.1002/smll.201201377. Epub 2012 Oct 2.

Nanostructured superhydrophobic substrates trigger the development of 3D neuronal networks.

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  • 1Department of Nanostructures, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genova, Italy.


The generation of 3D networks of primary neurons is a big challenge in neuroscience. Here, a novel method is presented for a 3D neuronal culture on superhydrophobic (SH) substrates. How nano-patterned SH devices stimulate neurons to build 3D networks is investigated. Scanning electron microscopy and confocal imaging show that soon after plating neurites adhere to the nanopatterned pillar sidewalls and they are subsequently pulled between pillars in a suspended position. These neurons display an enhanced survival rate compared to standard cultures and develop mature networks with physiological excitability. These findings underline the importance of using nanostructured SH surfaces for directing 3D neuronal growth, as well as for the design of biomaterials for neuronal regeneration.

Copyright © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

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