After injuries, axonal regeneration over long distance is challenging due to lack of orientation guidance. Biocompatible scaffolds have been used to mimic the native organization of axons to guide and facilitate axonal regeneration. Those scaffolds are of great importance in achieving functional connections of the nervous system. We have developed a nanoladder scaffold to guide directional outgrowth and facilitate regeneration of axons. The nanoladders, composed of micron-scale stripes and nanoscale protrusions, were fabricated on the glass substrate using photolithography and reactive ion etching methods. Embryonic neurons cultured on the nanoladder scaffold showed significant neurite elongation and axonal alignment in parallel with the nanoladder direction. Furthermore, the nanoladders promoted axonal regeneration and functional connection between organotypic spinal cord slices over 1 mm apart. Multimodality imaging studies revealed that such neuronal regeneration was supported by directional outgrowth of glial cells along nanoladders in the organotypic spinal cord slice culture as well as in the coculture of glial cells and neurons. These results collectively herald the potential of our nanoladder scaffold in facilitating and guiding neuronal development and functional restoration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering