Many neural interfacing strategies, such as the sieve electrode and the cultured probe, rely on neurite growth to establish neural contact. But this growth is subject to natural fasciculation, compromising the effectiveness of these interfacing strategies by reducing potential selectivity. This in vitro study shows that the fasciculation mechanism can be manipulated by providing an appropriate microchannel scaffold to guide and influence growth, thereby achieving a high degree of selectivity. The microchannels employed have a bifurcation from a primary channel into two secondary channels. This bifurcating microstructure was able to support and promote fasciculated growth over 70% of the time for microchannels widths of 2.5, 5, 10 and 20 µm. Fasciculation is shown to be a strong force during ingrowth, with the initiation of neurite separation related to random spatial exploration. Narrower microchannels initiate separated growth better. Once separated growth starts fasciculation results in an even distribution of neurite growth across the bifurcation. The reduction from 20 µm to 10 µm wide channels also resulted in a 3-fold decrease in ingrowing neurites performing 180° turns to exit the microchannel via the entrance. No neurite turning was observed for both the 5 and 2.5 µm wide channels.
- BSS-Neurotechnology and cellular engineering
- Fluid Dynamics
- Biological physics