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Biofabrication. 2010 Sep;2(3):035005. doi: 10.1088/1758-5082/2/3/035005. Epub 2010 Sep 8.

Hippocampal neurons respond uniquely to topographies of various sizes and shapes.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, C2200, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


A number of studies have investigated the behavior of neurons on microfabricated topography for the purpose of developing interfaces for use in neural engineering applications. However, there have been few studies simultaneously exploring the effects of topographies having various feature sizes and shapes on axon growth and polarization in the first 24 h. Accordingly, here we investigated the effects of arrays of lines (ridge grooves) and holes of microscale (approximately 2 microm) and nanoscale (approximately 300 nm) dimensions, patterned in quartz (SiO2), on the (1) adhesion, (2) axon establishment (polarization), (3) axon length, (4) axon alignment and (5) cell morphology of rat embryonic hippocampal neurons, to study the response of the neurons to feature dimension and geometry. Neurons were analyzed using optical and scanning electron microscopy. The topographies were found to have a negligible effect on cell attachment but to cause a marked increase in axon polarization, occurring more frequently on sub-microscale features than on microscale features. Neurons were observed to form longer axons on lines than on holes and smooth surfaces; axons were either aligned parallel or perpendicular to the line features. An analysis of cell morphology indicated that the surface features impacted the morphologies of the soma, axon and growth cone. The results suggest that incorporating microscale and sub-microscale topographies on biomaterial surfaces may enhance the biomaterials' ability to modulate nerve development and regeneration.

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