Photopolymerized microfeatures for directed spiral ganglion neurite and Schwann cell growth
Cochlear implants (CIs) provide auditory perception to individuals with severe hearing impairment. However, their ability to encode complex auditory stimuli is limited due, in part, to poor spatial resolution caused by electrical current spread in the inner ear. Directing nerve cell processes towards target electrodes may reduce the problematic current spread and improve stimulatory specificity. In this work, photopolymerization was used to fabricate micro- and nano-patterned methacrylate polymers to probe the extent of spiral ganglion neuron (SGN) neurite and Schwann cell (SGSC) contact guidance based on variations in substrate topographical cues. Micropatterned substrates are formed in a rapid, single-step reaction by selectively blocking light with photomasks which have parallel line-space gratings with periodicities of 10–100 μm. Channel amplitudes of 250 nm–10 μm are generated by modulating UV exposure time, light intensity, and photoinitiator concentration. Gradual transitions are observed between ridges and grooves using scanning electron and atomic force microscopy. The transitions stand in contrast to vertical features generated via etching lithographic techniques. Alignment of neural elements increases significantly with increasing feature amplitude and constant periodicity, as well as with decreasing periodicity and constant amplitude. SGN neurite alignment strongly correlates (r = 0.93) with maximum feature slope. Multiple neuronal and glial types orient to the patterns with varying degrees of alignment. This work presents a method to fabricate gradually-sloping micropatterns for cellular contact guidance studies and demonstrates spatial control of inner ear neural elements in response to micro- and nano-scale surface topography.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 34, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 42–54