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Open AccessArticle

A Novel Toolkit for Characterizing the Mechanical and Electrical Properties of Engineered Neural Tissues

1
Biomedical Engineering Program, University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C. V8W 2Y2, Canada
2
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C. V8W 2Y2, Canada
3
Division of Medical Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C. V8W 2Y2, Canada
4
Centre for Biomedical Research, University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C. V8W 2Y2, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Biosensors 2019, 9(2), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/bios9020051
Received: 31 January 2019 / Revised: 24 March 2019 / Accepted: 27 March 2019 / Published: 1 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomaterials and Biosensors: Current Advancements)
We have designed and validated a set of robust and non-toxic protocols for directly evaluating the properties of engineered neural tissue. These protocols characterize the mechanical properties of engineered neural tissues and measure their electrophysical activity. The protocols obtain elastic moduli of very soft fibrin hydrogel scaffolds and voltage readings from motor neuron cultures. Neurons require soft substrates to differentiate and mature, however measuring the elastic moduli of soft substrates remains difficult to accurately measure using standard protocols such as atomic force microscopy or shear rheology. Here we validate a direct method for acquiring elastic modulus of fibrin using a modified Hertz model for thin films. In this method, spherical indenters are positioned on top of the fibrin samples, generating an indentation depth that is then correlated with elastic modulus. Neurons function by transmitting electrical signals to one another and being able to assess the development of electrical signaling serves is an important verification step when engineering neural tissues. We then validated a protocol wherein the electrical activity of motor neural cultures is measured directly by a voltage sensitive dye and a microplate reader without causing damage to the cells. These protocols provide a non-destructive method for characterizing the mechanical and electrical properties of living spinal cord tissues using novel biosensing methods. View Full-Text
Keywords: tissue engineering; rheology; electrophysiology; biomedical devices; elastic modulus tissue engineering; rheology; electrophysiology; biomedical devices; elastic modulus
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MDPI and ACS Style

Robinson, M.; Valente, K.P.; Willerth, S.M. A Novel Toolkit for Characterizing the Mechanical and Electrical Properties of Engineered Neural Tissues. Biosensors 2019, 9, 51.

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