Hydrogels are an important class of biomaterials that have the potential to be used as three-dimensional tissue engineering scaffolds for regenerative medicine. This is especially true in the central nervous system, where neurons do not have the ability to regenerate due to the prohibitory local environment following injury. Hydrogels can fill an injury site, replacing the growth-prohibiting environment with a more growth-permissive one. In this study, dextran and chitosan were incorporated into a methylcellulose and agarose hydrogel blend. This created several thermally sensitive polysaccharide hydrogel blends that had tunable mechanical and surface charge properties. Cortical neurons were cultured on the hydrogels to determine the blend that had the greatest neuron compatibility. Our results show that softer, more positively charged polysaccharide hydrogel blends allow for greater neuron attachment and neurite extension, showing their promise as CNS regeneration scaffolds.
Acta Biomater.7, 1634–1643 (2011).