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Acta Biomater. 2008 Mar;4(2):244-55. Epub 2007 Oct 24.

Excimer laser channel creation in polyethersulfone hollow fibers for compartmentalized in vitro neuronal cell culture scaffolds.

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  • 1Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Hollow fiber scaffolds that compartmentalize axonal processes from their cell bodies can enable neuronal cultures with directed neurite outgrowth within a three-dimensional (3-D) space for controlling neuronal cell networking in vitro. Controllable 3-D neuronal networks in vitro could provide tools for studying neurobiological events. In order to create such a scaffold, polyethersulfone (PES) microporous hollow fibers were ablated with a KrF excimer laser to generate specifically designed channels for directing neurite outgrowth into the luminal compartments of the fibers. Excimer laser modification is demonstrated as a reproducible method to generate 5microm diameter channels within PES hollow fiber walls that allow compartmentalization of neuronal cell bodies from their axons. Laser modification of counterpart flat sheet PES membranes with peak surface fluences of 1.2Jcm(-2) results in increased hydrophobicity and laminin adsorption on the surface compared with the unmodified PES surface. This is correlated to enhanced PC12 cell adhesion with increasing fluence onto laser-modified PES membrane surfaces coated with laminin when compared with unmodified surfaces. Adult rat neural progenitor cells differentiated on PES fibers with laser-created channels resulted in spontaneous cell process growth into the channels of the scaffold wall while preventing entrance of cell bodies. Therefore, laser-modified PES fibers serve as scaffolds with channels conducive to directing neuronal cell process growth. These hollow fiber scaffolds can potentially be used in combination with perfusion and oxygenation hollow fiber membrane sets to construct a hollow fiber-based 3-D bioreactor for controlling and studying in vitro neuronal networking in three dimensions between compartmentalized cultures.

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