Electrospun nanofibers facilitate better alignment, differentiation, and long-term culture in an in vitro model of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ)

Baiwen Luo, Lingling Tian, Nuan Chen, Seeram Ramakrishna, Nitish V Thakor, In Hong Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is a specialized synapse between motor neurons and the muscle fibers they innervate. Due to the complexity of various signalling molecules and pathways, in vivo NMJs are difficult to study. Therefore, in vitro motor neuron-muscle co-culture plays a pivotal role in studying the mechanisms of NMJ formation associated with neurodegenerative diseases. There is a growing need to develop novel methodologies that can be used to develop long-term cultures of NMJs. To date, there have been few studies on NMJ development and long-term maintenance of the system, which is also the main challenge for the current in vitro models of NMJs. In this study, we demonstrate a long-term co-culture system of primary embryonic motor neurons from Sprague-Dawley rats and C2C12 cells on both random and aligned electrospun polylactic acid (PLA) nanofibrous scaffolds. This is the first study to explore the role of electrospun nanofibers in the long-term maintenance of NMJs. PLA nanofibrous scaffolds provide better contact guidance for C2C12 cells aligning along the fibers, thus guiding myotube formation. We can only maintain the co-culture system on a conventional glass substrate for 2 weeks, whilst 55% and 70% of the cells still survived on random and aligned PLA substrates after 7 weeks. Our nanofiber-based long-term co-culture system is used as an important tool for the fundamental research of NMJs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3262-3272
Number of pages11
JournalBiomaterials Science
Volume6
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 20 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)

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