A closer look at neuron interaction with track-etched microporous membranes.
George JH., Nagel D., Waller S., Hill E., Parri HR., Coleman MD., Cui Z., Ye H.
Microporous membranes support the growth of neurites into and through micro-channels, providing a different type of neural growth platform to conventional dish cultures. Microporous membranes are used to support various types of culture, however, the role of pore diameter in relation to neurite growth through the membrane has not been well characterised. In this study, the human cell line (SH-SY5Y) was differentiated into neuron-like cells and cultured on track-etched microporous membranes with pore and channel diameters selected to accommodate neurite width (0.8 µm to 5 µm). Whilst neurites extended through all pore diameters, the extent of neurite coverage on the non-seeded side of the membranes after 5 days in culture was found to be directly proportional to channel diameter. Neurite growth through membrane pores reduced significantly when neural cultures were non-confluent. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that neurites bridged pores and circumnavigated pore edges - such that the overall likelihood of a neurite entering a pore channel was decreased. These findings highlight the role of pore diameter, cell sheet confluence and contact guidance in directing neurite growth through pores and may be useful in applications that seek to use physical substrates to maintain separate neural populations whilst permitting neurite contact between cultures.