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Biomaterials. 2011 Jun;32(16):3958-68. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.02.015. Epub 2011 Mar 5.

Role of fibronectin in topographical guidance of neurite extension on electrospun fibers.

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1
Wallace H Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University School of Medicine, Suite 3108, 313 Ferst Dr., Atlanta, GA 30332, USA.

Abstract

Bridging of long peripheral nerve gaps remains a significant clinical challenge. Electrospun nanofibers have been used to direct and enhance neurite extension in vitro and in vivo. While it is well established that oriented fibers influence neurite outgrowth and Schwann cell migration, the mechanisms by which they influence these cells are still unclear. In this study, thin films consisting of aligned poly-acrylonitrile methylacrylate (PAN-MA) fibers or solvent casted smooth, PAN-MA films were fabricated to investigate the potential role of differential protein adsorption on topography-dependent neural cell responses. Aligned nanofiber films promoted enhanced adsorption of fibronectin compared to smooth films. Studies employing function-blocking antibodies against cell adhesion motifs suggest that fibronectin plays an important role in modulating Schwann cell migration and neurite outgrowth from dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cultures. Atomic Force Microscopy demonstrated that aligned PAN-MA fibers influenced fibronectin distribution, and promoted aligned fibronectin network formation compared to smooth PAN-MA films. In the presence of topographical cues, Schwann cell-generated fibronectin matrix was also organized in a topographically sensitive manner. Together these results suggest that fibronectin adsorption mediated the ability of topographical cues to influence Schwann cell migration and neurite outgrowth. These insights are significant to the development of rational approaches to scaffold designs to bridge long peripheral nerve gaps.

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