Author(s): Cullen DK, Lessing MC, LaPlaca MC
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Abstract In vitro models of brain injury that use thick 3-D cultures and control extracellular matrix constituents allow evaluation of cell-matrix interactions in a more physiologically relevant configuration than traditional 2-D cultures. We have developed a 3-D cell culture system consisting of primary rat cortical neurons distributed throughout thick (>500 microm) gels consisting of type IV collagen (Col) conjugated to agarose. Neuronal viability and neurite outgrowth were examined for a range of agarose (AG) percentages (1.0-3.0\%) and initial collagen concentrations ([Col](i); 0-600 microg/mL). In unmodified AG, 1.5\% gels supported viable cultures with significant neurite outgrowth, which was not found at lower (< or =1.0\%) concentrations. Varying [Col](i )in 1.25\% AG revealed the formation of dense, 3-D neurite networks at [Col](i) of 300 microg/mL, while neurons in unmodified AG and at higher [Col](i) (600 microg/mL) exhibited significantly less neurite outgrowth; although, neuronal survival did not vary with [Col](i). The effect of [Col](i) on acute neuronal response following high magnitude, high rate shear deformation (0.50 strain, 30 s(-1) strain rate) was evaluated in 1.5\% AG for [Col](i) of 30, 150, and 300 microg/mL, which supported cultures with similar baseline viability and neurite outgrowth. Conjugation of Col to AG also increased the complex modulus of the hydrogel. Following high rate deformation, neuronal viability significantly decreased with increasing [Col](i), implicating cell-matrix adhesions in acute mechanotransduction events associated with traumatic loading. These results suggest interrelated roles for matrix mechanical properties and receptor-mediated cell-matrix interactions in neuronal viability, neurite outgrowth, and transduction of high rate deformation. This model system may be further exploited for the elucidation of mechanotransduction mechanisms and cellular pathology following mechanical insult.
This article was published in Ann Biomed Eng
and referenced in International Journal of Neurorehabilitation