The ability to direct neurons into organized neural networks has great implications for regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, and bio-interfacing. Many studies have aimed at directing neurons using chemical and topographical cues. However, reports of organizational control on a micron-scale over large areas are scarce. Here, an effective method has been described for placing neurons in preset sites and guiding neuronal outgrowth with micron-scale resolution, using magnetic platforms embedded with micro-patterned, magnetic elements. It has been demonstrated that loading neurons with magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) converts them into sensitive magnetic units that can be influenced by magnetic gradients. Following this approach, a unique magnetic platform has been fabricated on which PC12 cells, a common neuron-like model, were plated and loaded with superparamagnetic nanoparticles. Thin films of ferromagnetic (FM) multilayers with stable perpendicular magnetization were deposited to provide effective attraction forces toward the magnetic patterns. These MNP-loaded PC12 cells, plated and differentiated atop the magnetic platforms, were preferentially attached to the magnetic patterns, and the neurite outgrowth was well aligned with the pattern shape, forming oriented networks. Quantitative characterization methods of the magnetic properties, cellular MNP uptake, cell viability, and statistical analysis of the results are presented. This approach enables the control of neural network formation and improves neuron-to-electrode interface through the manipulation of magnetic forces, which can be an effective tool for in vitro studies of networks and may offer novel therapeutic biointerfacing directions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Ministry of Science & Technology, Israel, and by the Israeli Science Foundation (569/16).
© 2021 JoVE Journal of Visualized Experiments.