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Biomed Microdevices. 2009 Dec;11(6):1269-78. doi: 10.1007/s10544-009-9346-0.

Triangular neuronal networks on microelectrode arrays: an approach to improve the properties of low-density networks for extracellular recording.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Ackermannweg 10, 55128 Mainz, Germany.


Multi-unit recording from neuronal networks cultured on microelectrode arrays (MEAs) is a widely used approach to achieve basic understanding of network properties, as well as the realization of cell-based biosensors. However, network formation is random under primary culture conditions, and the cellular arrangement often performs an insufficient fit to the electrode positions. This results in the successful recording of only a small fraction of cells. One possible approach to overcome this limitation is to raise the number of cells on the MEA, thereby accepting an increased complexity of the network. In this study, we followed an alternative strategy to increase the portion of neurons located at the electrodes by designing a network in confined geometries. Guided settlement and outgrowth of neurons is accomplished by taking control over the adhesive properties of the MEA surface. Using microcontact printing a triangular two-dimensional pattern of the adhesion promoter poly-D-lysine was applied to the MEA offering a meshwork that at the same time provides adhesion points for cell bodies matching the electrode positions and gives frequent branching points for dendrites and axons. Low density neocortical networks cultivated under this condition displayed similar properties to random networks with respect to the cellular morphology but had a threefold higher electrode coverage. Electrical activity was dominated by periodic burst firing that could pharmacologically be modulated. Geometry of the network and electrical properties of the patterned cultures were reproducible and displayed long-term stability making the combination of surface structuring and multi-site recording a promising tool for biosensor applications.

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