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ACS Chem Neurosci. 2015 Jan 21;6(1):48-67. doi: 10.1021/cn500256e. Epub 2015 Jan 12.

Brain tissue responses to neural implants impact signal sensitivity and intervention strategies.

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Department of Bioengineering, ‡Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, §McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, ∥Department of Chemistry, and ⊥Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, United States.


Implantable biosensors are valuable scientific tools for basic neuroscience research and clinical applications. Neurotechnologies provide direct readouts of neurological signal and neurochemical processes. These tools are generally most valuable when performance capacities extend over months and years to facilitate the study of memory, plasticity, and behavior or to monitor patients' conditions. These needs have generated a variety of device designs from microelectrodes for fast scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV) and electrophysiology to microdialysis probes for sampling and detecting various neurochemicals. Regardless of the technology used, the breaching of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to insert devices triggers a cascade of biochemical pathways resulting in complex molecular and cellular responses to implanted devices. Molecular and cellular changes in the microenvironment surrounding an implant include the introduction of mechanical strain, activation of glial cells, loss of perfusion, secondary metabolic injury, and neuronal degeneration. Changes to the tissue microenvironment surrounding the device can dramatically impact electrochemical and electrophysiological signal sensitivity and stability over time. This review summarizes the magnitude, variability, and time course of the dynamic molecular and cellular level neural tissue responses induced by state-of-the-art implantable devices. Studies show that insertion injuries and foreign body response can impact signal quality across all implanted central nervous system (CNS) sensors to varying degrees over both acute (seconds to minutes) and chronic periods (weeks to months). Understanding the underlying biological processes behind the brain tissue response to the devices at the cellular and molecular level leads to a variety of intervention strategies for improving signal sensitivity and longevity.


Foreign body response; biocompatibility; biointegration; in vivo; inflammation; two-photon

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