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J Neural Eng. 2014 Dec;11(6):066009. doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/11/6/066009. Epub 2014 Oct 31.

Patterned and functionalized nanofiber scaffolds in three-dimensional hydrogel constructs enhance neurite outgrowth and directional control.

Author information

1
Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Engineering Science, Old Road Campus Research Building, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7DQ, UK. Institute of Neural Regeneration and Tissue Engineering, Highland, UT 84003, US.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Neural tissue engineering holds incredible potential to restore functional capabilities to damaged neural tissue. It was hypothesized that patterned and functionalized nanofiber scaffolds could control neurite direction and enhance neurite outgrowth.

APPROACH:

A method of creating aligned electrospun nanofibers was implemented and fiber characteristics were analyzed using environmental scanning electron microscopy. Nanofibers were composed of polycaprolactone (PCL) polymer, PCL mixed with gelatin, or PCL with a laminin coating. Three-dimensional hydrogels were then integrated with embedded aligned nanofibers to support neuronal cell cultures. Microscopic images were captured at high-resolution in single and multi-focal planes with eGFP-expressing neuronal SH-SY5Y cells in a fluorescent channel and nanofiber scaffolding in another channel. Neuronal morphology and neurite tracking of nanofibers were then analyzed in detail.

MAIN RESULTS:

Aligned nanofibers were shown to enable significant control over the direction of neurite outgrowth in both two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) neuronal cultures. Laminin-functionalized nanofibers in 3D hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels enabled significant alignment of neurites with nanofibers, enabled significant neurite tracking of nanofibers, and significantly increased the distance over which neurites could extend. Specifically, the average length of neurites per cell in 3D HA constructs with laminin-functionalized nanofibers increased by 66% compared to the same laminin fibers on 2D laminin surfaces, increased by 59% compared to 2D laminin-coated surface without fibers, and increased by 1052% compared to HA constructs without fibers. Laminin functionalization of fibers also doubled average neurite length over plain PCL fibers in the same 3D HA constructs. In addition, neurites also demonstrated tracking directly along the fibers, with 66% of neurite lengths directly tracking laminin-coated fibers in 3D HA constructs, which was a 65% relative increase in neurite tracking compared to plain PCL fibers in the same 3D HA constructs and a 213% relative increase over laminin-coated fibers on 2D laminin-coated surfaces.

SIGNIFICANCE:

This work demonstrates the ability to create unique 3D neural tissue constructs using a combined system of hydrogel and nanofiber scaffolding. Importantly, patterned and biofunctionalized nanofiber scaffolds that can control direction and increase length of neurite outgrowth in three-dimensions hold much potential for neural tissue engineering. This approach offers advancements in the development of implantable neural tissue constructs that enable control of neural development and reproduction of neuroanatomical pathways, with the ultimate goal being the achievement of functional neural regeneration.

PMID:
25358624
DOI:
10.1088/1741-2560/11/6/066009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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