Electrospun nanofibers can be readily assembled into various types of scaffolds for applications in neural tissue engineering. The objective of this study is to examine and understand the unique patterns of neurite outgrowth from primary dorsal root ganglia (DRG) cultured on scaffolds of electrospun nanofibers having different orders, structures, and surface properties. We found that the neurites extended radially outward from the DRG main body without specific directionality when cultured on a nonwoven mat of randomly oriented nanofibers. In contrast, the neurites preferentially extended along the long axis of fiber when cultured on a parallel array of aligned nanofibers. When seeded at the border between regions of aligned and random nanofibers, the same DRG simultaneously expressed aligned and random neurite fields in response to the underlying nanofibers. When cultured on a double-layered scaffold where the nanofibers in each layer were aligned along a different direction, the neurites were found to be dependent on the fiber density in both layers. This biaxial pattern clearly demonstrates that neurite outgrowth can be influenced by nanofibers in different layers of a scaffold, rather than the topmost layer only. Taken together, these results will provide valuable information pertaining to the design of nanofiber scaffolds for neuroregenerative applications, as well as the effects of topology on neurite outgrowth, growth cone guidance, and axonal regeneration.
Xie, J.; MacEwan, M.R.; Li, X.; Sakiyama-Elbert, S.E.; Xia, Y. Neurite outgrowth on nanofiber scaffolds with different orders, structures, and surface properties. ACS Nano 2009, 3, 1151-1159.