Journal article Open Access
Neural tissue engineering approaches show increasing promise for the treatment of neural diseases including spinal cord injury, for which an efficient therapy is still missing. Encouraged by both positive findings on the interaction of carbon nanomaterials such as graphene with neural components and the necessity of more efficient guidance structures for neural repair, we herein study the potential of reduced graphene oxide (rGO) microfibers as substrates for neural growth in the injured central neural tissue. Compact,
bendable, and conductive fibers are obtained. When coated with neural adhesive molecules (poly-L-lysine and N-cadherin), these microfibers behave as supportive substrates of highly interconnected cultures composed of neurons and glial cells for up to 21 days. Synaptic contacts close to rGO are identified. Interestingly, the colonization by meningeal fibroblasts is dramatically hindered by N-cadherin coating. Finally, in vivo studies reveal the feasible implantation of these rGO microfibers as a guidance platform in the injured rat spinal cord, without evident signs of subacute local toxicity. These positive findings boost further investigation at longer implantation times to prove the utility of these substrates as components of advanced therapies for enhancing repair in the damaged central neural tissue including the injured spinal cord.