Anisotropic architecture and electrical stimulation enhance neuron cell behaviour on a tough graphene embedded PVA: alginate fibrous scaffold

RSC Adv. 2018 Feb 8;8(12):6381-6389. doi: 10.1039/c7ra13136d. eCollection 2018 Feb 6.


Tough scaffolds comprised of aligned and conductive fibers are promising for peripheral nerve regeneration due to their unique mechanical and electrical properties. Several studies have confirmed that electrical stimulation can control the axonal extension in vitro. However, the stimulatory effects of scaffold architecture and electrical stimulation have not yet been investigated in detail. Here, we assessed a comparison between aligned and random fibers made of graphene (Gr) embedded sodium alginate (SA) polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) (Gr-AP scaffolds) for peripheral nerve engineering. The effects of applied electrical stimulation and orientation of the fabricated fibers on the in vitro attachment, alignment, and proliferation of PC12 cells (a rat neuronal cell line) were investigated. The results revealed that the aligned fibrous Gr-AP scaffolds closely mimicked the anisotropic structure of the native sciatic nerve. Aligned fibrous Gr-AP scaffolds significantly improved mechanical properties as well as cell-scaffold integration compared to random fibrous scaffolds. In addition, electrical stimulation significantly improved PC12 cell proliferation. In summary, our findings revealed that aligned fibrous Gr-AP scaffolds offered superior mechanical characteristics and structural properties that enhanced neural cell-substrate interactions, resulting in a promising construct for nerve tissue regeneration.