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Engineered scaffolds simultaneously exhibiting multiple cues are highly desirable for neural tissue regeneration. To this end, we developed a neural tissue engineering scaffold that displays submicrometer-scale features, electrical conductivity, and neurotrophic activity. Specifically, electrospun poly(lactic acid-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanofibers were layered with a nanometer thick coating of electrically conducting polypyrrole (PPy) presenting carboxylic groups. Then, nerve growth factor (NGF) was chemically immobilized onto the surface of the fibers. These NGF-immobilized PPy-coated PLGA (NGF-PPyPLGA) fibers supported PC12 neurite formation (28.0±3.0% of the cells) and neurite outgrowth (14.2 μm median length), which were comparable to that observed with NGF (50 ng/mL) in culture medium (29.Oil.3%, 14.4 μm). Electrical stimulation of PC12 cells on NGF-immobilized PPyPLGA fiber scaffolds was found to further improve neurite development and neurite length by 18% and 17%, respectively, compared to unstimulated cells on the NGF-immobilized fibers. Hence, submicrometer-scale fibrous scaffolds that incorporate neurotrophic and electroconducting activities may serve as promising neural tissue engineering scaffolds such as nerve guidance conduits.
Date of Publication: March 2012