The synergistic effect of nanotopography and sustained dual release of hydrophobic and hydrophilic neurotrophic factors on human mesenchymal stem cell neuronal lineage commitment

Tissue Eng Part A. 2014 Aug;20(15-16):2151-61. doi: 10.1089/ten.tea.2013.0382. Epub 2014 Jun 16.


A combination of nanotopography and controlled release is a potential platform for neuronal tissue engineering applications. Previous studies showed that combining both physical and chemical guidance was more effective than individual cues in the directional promotion of neurite outgrowth. Nanotopography can direct human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) into neuronal lineage, while controlled release of neurotrophic factors can deliver temporally controlled biochemical signals. Hypothesizing that the synergistic effect will enhance neuronal lineage commitment of hMSCs, a fabrication method for multiple neurotrophic factors delivery from a single nanopatterned (350 nm gratings), poly-ɛ-caprolactone (PCL) film was developed and evaluated. Our results showed a synergistic effect on hMSC differentiation cultured on substrates with both nanotopographical and biochemical cues. The protein/drug encapsulation into PCL nanopatterned films was first optimized using a hydrophilic model protein, bovine serum albumin. The hydrophobic retinoic acid (RA) molecule was directly incorporated into PCL films. To achieve sustained release, hydrophilic nerve growth factor (NGF) was first encapsulated within polyelectrolyte complexation fibers before they were embedded within the nanopatterned PCL film. Our results showed that nanotopography on the fabricated polymer films remained intact, while release of bioactive RA and NGF was sustained over a period of 3 weeks. Under the combinatorial effect of physical and biochemical cues, we observed an enhanced upregulation of neuronal genes such as microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) and neurofilament light (NFL) as compared with sustained delivery of individual cues and bolus delivery. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that MAP2 and NFL gene upregulation in hMSCs was most pronounced on the nanogratings with sustained release of both RA and NGF. The fabricated platforms supported the sustained delivery of multiple neurotrophins, including both hydrophobic and hydrophilic therapeutic agents, while providing surface patterning versatility for application in neural regeneration and tissue engineering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Assay
  • Cattle
  • Cell Lineage / drug effects*
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Electrolytes
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions / drug effects*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / pharmacology*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • PC12 Cells
  • Polyesters / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology


  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Electrolytes
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Polyesters
  • polycaprolactone
  • Tretinoin