A suspended carbon fiber culture to model myelination by human Schwann cells

J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2017 Apr;28(4):57. doi: 10.1007/s10856-017-5867-x. Epub 2017 Feb 16.


Understanding of myelination/remyelination process is essential to guide tissue engineering for nerve regeneration. In vitro models currently used are limited to cell population studies and cannot easily identify individual cell contribution to the process. We established a novel model to study the contribution of human Schwann cells to the myelination process. The model avoids the presence of neurons in culture; Schwann cells respond solely to the biophysical properties of an artificial axon. The model uses a single carbon fiber suspended in culture media far from the floor of the well. The fiber provides an elongated structure of defined diameter with 360-degree of surface available for human Schwann cells to wrap around. This model enabled us to spatially and temporally track the myelination by individual Schwann cells along the fiber. We observed cell attachment, elongation and wrapping over a period of 9 days. Cells remained alive and expressed Myelin Basic Protein and Myelin Associated Glycoprotein as expected. Natural and artificial molecules, and external physical factors (e.g., p atterned electrical impulses), may be tested with this model as possible regulators of myelination.

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / chemistry*
  • Carbon Fiber
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Myelin Basic Protein / chemistry
  • Myelin Sheath / chemistry
  • Myelin-Associated Glycoprotein / chemistry
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Neurons
  • Organogenesis
  • Schwann Cells / cytology*
  • Surface Properties


  • Carbon Fiber
  • Myelin Basic Protein
  • Myelin-Associated Glycoprotein
  • Carbon