Hydrogel matrices are valuable platforms for neuronal tissue engineering. Orienting gel fibers to achieve a directed scaffold is important for effective functional neuronal regeneration. However, current methods are limited and require treatment of gels prior to implantation, ex-vivo, without taking into consideration the pathology in the injured site. We have developed a method to control gel orientation dynamically and remotely in situ. We have mixed into collagen hydrogels magnetic nanoparticles then applied an external magnetic field. During the gelation period the magnetic particles aggregated into magnetic particle strings, leading to the alignment of the collagen fibers. We have shown that neurons within the 3D magnetically induced gels exhibited normal electrical activity and viability. Importantly, neurons formed elongated cooriented morphology, relying on the particle strings and fibers as supportive cues for growth. The ability to inject the mixed gel directly into the injured site as a solution then to control scaffold orientation remotely opens future possibilities for therapeutic engineered scaffolds.
Keywords: 3D platform; aligned scaffold; collagen hydrogel; magnetic nanoparticles; neuronal regeneration.