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Long-term neurite orientation on astrocyte monolayers aligned by microtopography

Sorensen, Annette and Alekseeva, Tijna and Katechia, Kashyap and Robertson, Mary and Riehle, Mathis O. and Barnett, Susan C. (2007) Long-term neurite orientation on astrocyte monolayers aligned by microtopography. Biomaterials, 28 (36). pp. 5498-5508. ISSN 0142-9612

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Abstract

After spinal cord injury neuronal connections are not easily re-established. Success has been hampered by the lack of orientation of neurites inside scar tissue and a lack of neurites crossing out of the site of injury. Oriented scaffolds in biodegradable polymers could be an excellent way to support both the orientation of neurites within the injury site as well as aiding their crossing out of the lesion. To establish the validity of using grooved micro-topography in polycaprolactone in combination with glia we have studied the long-term (3 weeks) orientation of neuronal cells on monolayers of astrocytes on the top of grooved topographies of various dimensions. We find that neurites are significantly aligned by groove/ridge type topographies which are 'buried' under a monolayer of astrocytes for up to 3 weeks. This alignment is significantly lower than that of neurites growing directly on the topography, but these neurons do not survive on the poly-l-lysine coated polymer for more than a week. The alignment of neurites on the astrocyte layer to the underlying topography decreases over time, and with groove width. Topographies with 12.5 or 25 μm lateral dimension appear optimal for the long-term alignment and can support myelination. We have shown for the first time that micro-topography can act through an overlaid astrocyte layer and results in aligned neurites in long-term culture and that these can be myelinated by endogenous oligodendrocytes.