Background: Polymer crosslinked aerogels are an attractive class of materials for future implant applications particularly as a biomaterial for the support of nerve growth. The low density and nano-porous structure of this material combined with large surface area, high mechanical strength, and tunable surface properties, make aerogels materials with a high potential in aiding repair of injuries of the peripheral nervous system. However, the interaction of neurons with aerogels remains to be investigated. Methodology: In this work the attachment and growth of neurons on clear polyurea crosslinked silica aerogels (PCSA) coated with: poly-L-lysine, basement membrane extract (BME), and laminin1 was investigated by means of optical and scanning electron microscopy. After comparing the attachment and growth capability of neurons on these different coatings, laminin1 and BME were chosen for nerve cell attachment and growth on PCSA surfaces. The behavior of neurons on treated petri dish surfaces was used as the control and behavior of neurons on treated PCSA discs was compared against it. Conclusions/Significance: This study demonstrates that: 1) untreated PCSA surfaces do not support attachment and growth of nerve cells, 2) a thin application of laminin1 layer onto the PCSA discs adhered well to the PCSA surface while also supporting growth and differentiation of neurons as evidenced by the number of processes extended and b3-tubulin expression, 3) three dimensional porous structure of PCSA remains intact after fixing protocols necessary for preservation of biological samples and 4) laminin1 coating proved to be the most effective method for attaching neurons to the desired regions on PCSA discs. This work provides the basis for potential use of PCSA as a biomaterial scaffold for neural regeneration. © 2012 Sabri et al.
F. Sabri et al., "Investigation of Polyurea-crosslinked Silica Aerogels as a Neuronal Scaffold: A Pilot Study," PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, Jan 2012.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033242
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