Heterogeneous scaffold designs for selective neural regeneration

Paul Andrew Wieringa

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

    52 Downloads (Pure)


    Over the past 5 decades, there has been a drive to apply technology to enhance neural regeneration in order to improve patient recovery after disease or injury. This has evolved into the field of Neural Engineering, with the aim to understand, control and exploit the development and function of neural tissue. To improve peripheral nervous system (PNS) recovery, various tissue scaffolds have been developed; the most pivotal and promising are covered in Chapter 1. In the pursuit of exacting control over neural growth patterns, the use of topographical cues has been identified as a promising strategy to guide growth cones and direct neural growth. Chapter 2 explores this possibility by using nanoimprinted 2D culture environments to determine the role of topographical feature size. To better approach the native cellular environment and to facilitate translation from the in vitro to the in vivo setting, 3D culturing environments have recently been employed to explore cell behaviour. Chapter 3 describes the exploration of topographical cues in a more 3D environment using electrospun (ESP) fibers to influence the behaviour of Schwann cells. Also explored in this chapter was the influence of biofunctionalization on cell behaviour, with results indicating that specific substrate-bound biomolecules contributed to the functional intricacy of the PNS. To recreate this complexity, Chapter 4 develops a new electrospinning technique (Tandem Electrospinning; T-ESP) capable of creating spatially defined, heterogeneous patterns of aligned fibers while Chapter 5 validates a method of selectively functionalizing different populations of fibers. Selective biofunctionalization of T-ESP fibers was shown to produce spatially modulated neurite outgrowth. Chapter 6 outlines the creation of a hydrogel construct mimicking the PNS extracellular matrix, with microchannel architecture and incorporated nanofiber topography lining the channel walls. Shown to induce neurite alignment, this presents the possibility of creating defined patterns of neurite growth in a 3D context. Chapter 7 discusses the developed biofabrication techniques as a means to create a scaffold capable of selective neural regeneration, emphasizing the potential impact in developing a highly selective regenerative neural interface.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Twente
    • van Wezel, Richard J.A., Supervisor
    • Moroni, L., Co-Supervisor
    Thesis sponsors
    Award date24 Apr 2014
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs978-9-46259-159-2
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2014


    • BSS-Neurotechnology and cellular engineering
    • Scaffold design
    • Biomimetic microarchitectures
    • Neural regeneration


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