Photopolymerized Microfeatures Guide Adult Spiral Ganglion and Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurite Growth

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Hypothesis:Microtopographical patterns generated by photopolymerization of methacrylate polymer systems will direct growth of neurites from adult neurons, including spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs).Background:Cochlear implants (CIs) provide hearing perception to patients with severe to profound hearing loss. However, their ability to encode complex auditory stimuli is limited due, in part, to poor spatial resolution caused by spread of the electrical currents in the inner ear. Directing the regrowth of SGN peripheral processes towards stimulating electrodes could help reduce current spread and improve spatial resolution provided by the CI. Previous work has demonstrated that micro- and nano-scale patterned surfaces precisely guide the growth of neurites from a variety of neonatal neurons including SGNs. Here, we sought to determine the extent to which adult neurons likewise respond to these topographical surface features.Methods:Photopolymerization was used to fabricate methacrylate polymer substrates with micropatterned surfaces of varying amplitudes and periodicities. Dissociated adult dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRGNs) and SGNs were cultured on these surfaces and the alignment of the neurite processes to the micropatterns was determined.Results:Neurites from both adult DRGNs and SGNs significantly aligned to the patterned surfaces similar to their neonatal counterparts. Further DRGN and SGN neurite alignment increased as the amplitude of the microfeatures increased. Decreased pattern periodicity also improved neurite alignment.Conclusion:Microscale surface topographic features direct the growth of adult SGN neurites. Topographical features could prove useful for guiding growth of SGN peripheral axons towards a CI electrode array.

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