Rapid Generation of Neurospheres from Hippocampal Neurons Using Extracellular-Matrix-Mimetic Scaffolds

ACS Chem Neurosci. 2021 Aug 4;12(15):2838-2850. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.1c00201. Epub 2021 Jul 14.


3D models of brain organoids represent an innovative and promising tool in neuroscience studies. However, the process of neurosphere formation in vitro remains complicated and is not always very effective. This is largely due to the lack of growth factors, guidance cues, and scaffold structures commonly found in tissues. Here we present a new, simple, and efficient method for generating neurospheres using scaffolds composed of electrospun nylon fibers with a diameter of 40-180 nm, which makes them similar to the brain extracellular matrix (ECM) components. Several main advantages of the proposed method should be highlighted. The method is fast, and the biomaterial consumption is low. Also, the resulting neurospheres are attached to the scaffold nanofibers. This not only provides the experimental convenience but also suggests that the resulting organoid models can potentially demonstrate fundamentally new properties, being closer to the nervous tissue in vivo. We demonstrate the influence of the fibrous scaffold structure on the formation, morphology, and composition of neurospheres and confirm adequate functional activity of the cellular components of these spheroids. The proposed approach can be further used for drug screening, modeling of neurodevelopmental, neurodegenerative disorders, and, potentially, therapeutic tissue engineering.

Keywords: Hippocampal neurons; brain ECM-mimetic model; nanofiber scaffolds; neurospheres.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Hippocampus
  • Neurons
  • Tissue Engineering*
  • Tissue Scaffolds*