Improvement of the Electronic-Neuronal Interface by Natural Deposition of ECM
The foreign body reaction to neuronal electrode implants limits potential applications as well as the therapeutic period. Developments in the basic electrode design might improve the tissue compatibility and thereby reduce the foreign body reaction. In this work, the approach of embedding 3D carbon nanofiber electrodes in extracellular matrix (ECM) synthesized by human fibroblasts for a compatible connection to neuronal cells was investigated. Porous electrode material was manufactured by solution coelectrospinning of polyacrylonitrile and polyamide as a fibrous porogen. Moreover, NaCl represented an additional particulate porogen. To achieve the required conductivity for an electrical interface, meshes were carbonized. Through the application of two different porogens, the electrodes' flexibility and porosity was improved. Human dermal fibroblasts were cultured on the electrode surface for ECM generation and removed afterwards. Scanning electron microscopy imaging revealed a nano fibrous ECM network covering the carbon fibers. The collagen amount of the ECM coating was quantified by hydroxyproline‐assays. The modification with the natural protein coating on the electrode functionality resulted in a minor increase of the electrical capacity, which slightly improved the already outstanding electrical interface properties. Increased cell numbers of SH‐SY5Y cell line on ECM‐modified electrodes demonstrated an improved cell adhesion. During cell differentiation, the natural ECM enhanced the formation of neurites regarding length and branching. The conducted experiments indicated the prevention of direct cell‐electrode contacts by the modification, which might help to shield temporary the electrode from immunological cells to reduce the foreign body reaction and improve the electrodes' tissue integration.