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Neurite Outgrowth on Electrospun Nanofibers with Uniaxial Alignment: The Effects of Fiber Density, Surface Coating, and Supporting Substrate

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posted on 17.12.2015, 00:46 by Jingwei Xie, Wenying Liu, Matthew R. MacEwan, Paul C. Bridgman, Younan Xia
Electrospun nanofibers with uniaxial alignment have recently gained its popularity as scaffolds for neural tissue engineering. Many studies have demonstrated that the nanofibers could guide the neurites to extend along the direction of alignment, resembling the native hierarchy of the nerve tissue. However, the contact cues provided by the nanofibers can be far more complicated than just guiding the neurites to extend along them. In the current study, we used dorsal root ganglia as a model system to systematically investigate the interactions between neurites and uniaxially aligned nanofibers. We demonstrated, for the first time, that the neurites could not only project along the nanofibers, but also be directed to grow along a direction perpendicular to the aligned nanofibers, depending on the following parameters: (i) the density of nanofibers, (ii) the protein deposited on the surfaces of the nanofibers, and (iii) surface properties of the substrate on which the nanofibers were supported. We also investigated the pharmacological effect of myosin II inhibition on the nanofiber-guided growth of neurites by adding blebbistatin to the culture medium. Our findings offer new insights into the design of nanofiber-based scaffolds for nerve injury repair and will provide new guidelines for the construction of well-defined neuronal network architecture (the so-called neural circuits).