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Tissue Eng Part A. 2010 Dec;16(12):3747-58. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2009.0837. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Biomimetic microenvironment modulates neural stem cell survival, migration, and differentiation.

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  • 1Laboratory for Neuroengineering, Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Biomaterial matrices presenting extracellular matrix (ECM) components in a controlled three-dimensional configuration provide a unique system to study neural stem cell (NSC)-ECM interactions. We cultured primary murine neurospheres in a methylcellulose (MC) scaffold functionalized with laminin-1 (MC-x-LN1) and monitored NSC survival, apoptosis, migration, differentiation, and matrix production. Overall, MC-x-LN1 enhanced both NSC survival and maturation compared with MC controls. Significantly lower levels of apoptotic activity were observed in MC-x-LN1 than in MC controls, as measured by bcl-2/bax gene expression and tetramethylrhodamine-dUTP nick end labeling. A higher percentage of NSCs extended neurites in a β₁-integrin-mediated fashion in MC-x-LN1 than in MC controls. Further, the differentiation profiles of NSCs in MC-x-LN1 exhibited higher levels of neuronal and oligodendrocyte precursor markers than in MC controls. LN1 production and co-localization with α₆β₁ integrins was markedly increased within MC-x-LN1, whereas the production of fibronectin was more pronounced in MC controls. These findings demonstrate that NSC microenvironments modulate cellular activity throughout the neurosphere, contributing to our understanding of ECM-mediated NSC behavior and provide new avenues for developing rationally designed couriers for neurotransplantation.

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