Characterisation of cell-substrate interactions between Schwann cells and three-dimensional fibrin hydrogels containing orientated nanofibre topographical cues

Dorothee Hodde*, Jose Gerardo-Nava, Vanessa Woehlk, Stefan Weinandy, Stefan Jockenhoevel, Andreas Kriebel, Haktan Altinova, Harry W. M. Steinbusch, Martin Moeller, Joachim Weis, Joerg Mey, Gary A. Brook

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The generation of complex three-dimensional bioengineered scaffolds that are capable of mimicking the molecular and topographical cues of the extracellular matrix found in native tissues is a field of expanding research. The systematic development of such scaffolds requires the characterisation of cell behaviour in response to the individual components of the scaffold. In the present investigation, we studied cell-substrate interactions between purified populations of Schwann cells and three-dimensional fibrin hydrogel scaffolds, in the presence or absence of multiple layers of highly orientated electrospun polycaprolactone nanofibres. Embedded Schwann cells remained viable within the fibrin hydrogel for up to 7days (the longest time studied); however, cell behaviour in the hydrogel was somewhat different to that observed on the two-dimensional fibrin substrate: Schwann cells failed to proliferate in the fibrin hydrogel, whereas cell numbers increased steadily on the two-dimensional fibrin substrate. Schwann cells within the fibrin hydrogel developed complex process branching patterns, but, when presented with orientated nanofibres, showed a strong tendency to redistribute themselves onto the nanofibres, where they extended long processes that followed the longitudinal orientation of the nanofibres. The process length along nanofibre-containing fibrin hydrogel reached near-maximal levels (for the present experimental conditions) as early as 1day after culturing. The ability of this three-dimensional, extracellular matrix-mimicking scaffold to support Schwann cell survival and provide topographical cues for rapid process extension suggest that it may be an appropriate device design for the bridging of experimental lesions of the peripheral nervous system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-387
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • extracellular matrix
  • peripheral nerve
  • regeneration
  • tissue engineering

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