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Hear Res. 2011 Aug;278(1-2):96-105. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2011.05.004. Epub 2011 May 18.

Micropatterned methacrylate polymers direct spiral ganglion neurite and Schwann cell growth.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 2PFP, 200 Hawkins Dr., Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Significant advances in the functional outcomes achieved with cochlear implantation will likely require tissue-engineering approaches to improve the neural prosthesis interface. One strategy is to direct spiral ganglion neuron (SGN) axon growth in a highly organized fashion to approximate or contact stimulating electrodes. Here we assessed the ability of micropatterns induced by photopolymerization in methacrylate (MA) polymer systems to direct cultured neonatal rat SGN neurite growth and alignment of SG Schwann cells (SGSCs). SGN survival and neurite length were comparable among various polymer compositions. Remarkably, there was no significant difference in SGN survival or neurite length between laminin and non-laminin coated MA polymer substrates, suggesting high biocompatibility with SG tissue. Micropatterning with photopolymerization generated microchannels with a ridge periodicity of 50 μm and channel depths of 0.6-1.0 μm. SGN neurites grew within the grooves of the microchannels. These topographies strongly induced alignment of dissociated SGN neurites and SGSCs to parallel the pattern. By contrast, fibroblasts failed to align with the micropattern suggesting cell specific responses to topographical cues. SGN neurites extending from explants turned to parallel the pattern as they encountered the microchannels. The extent of turning was significantly correlated with angle at which the neurite initially encountered the pattern. These results indicate that SGN neurites respond to microtopographical features and that these features can be used to direct neurite growth in a highly organized fashion.

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