Glial progenitor cell migration promotes CNS axon growth on functionalized electroconducting microfibers
Electroactive systems that promote directional axonal growth and migration of glial progenitor cells (GPC) are needed for the treatment of neurological injuries. We report the functionalization of electroconducting microfibers with multiple biomolecules that synergistically stimulate the proliferation and migration of GPC, which in turn induce axonal elongation from embryonic cerebral cortex neurons. PEDOT doped with poly[(4-styrenesulfonic acid)-co-(maleic acid)] was synthesized on carbon microfibers and used for covalent attachment of molecules to the electroactive surface. The molecular complexes that promoted GPC proliferation and migration, followed by axonal extension, were composed of polylysine, heparin, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and matricellular proteins; the combination of bFGF with vitronectin or fibronectin being indispensable for sustained glial and axonal growth. The rate of glial-induced axonal elongation was about threefold that of axons growing directly on microfibers functionalized with polylysine alone. Electrical stimuli applied through the microfibers released bFGF and fibronectin from the polymer surface, consequently reducing GPC proliferation and promoting their differentiation into astrocytes, without causing cell detachment or toxicity. These results suggest that functionalized electroactive microfibers may provide a multifunctional tool for controlling neuron-glia interactions and enhancing neural repair.Statement of SignificanceWe report a multiple surface functionalization strategy for electroconducting microfibers (MFs), in order to promote proliferation and guided migration of glial precursor cells (GPC) and consequently create a permissive substrate for elongation of central nervous system (CNS) axons. GPC divided and migrated extensively on the functionalized MFs, leading to fast elongation of embryonic cerebral cortex axons. The application of electric pulses thorough the MFs controlled glial cell division and differentiation. The functionalized MFs provide an advanced tool for neural tissue engineering and for controlling neuron-glial interactions. CNS axonal growth associated to migratory glial precursors, together with the possibility of directing glial differentiation by electrical stimuli applied through the MFs, open a new research avenue to explore for CNS repair.
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Journal: Acta Biomaterialia - Volume 35, 15 April 2016, Pages 42–56