Surface topography has a profound effect on the development of the nervous system, such as neuronal differentiation and morphogenesis. While the interaction of neurons and the surface topography of their local environment is well characterized, the neuron–topography interaction during the regeneration process remains largely unknown. To address this question, an anisotropic surface topography resembling linear grooves made from poly(ethylene-vinyl acetate) (EVA), a soft and biocompatible polymer, using nanoimprinting, is established. It is found that neurons from both the central and peripheral nervous system can survive and grow on this grooved surface. Additionally, it is observed that axons but not dendrites specifically align with these grooves. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that neurons on the grooved surface are capable of regeneration after an on-site injury. More importantly, these injured neurons have an accelerated and enhanced regeneration. Together, the data demonstrate that this anisotropic topography guides axon growth and improves axon regeneration. This opens up the possibility to study the effect of surface topography on regenerating axons and has the potential to be developed into a medical device for treating peripheral nerve injuries.
- microfabricated substratum nerve regeneration
- neurite guidance
- tissue engineering
- topographic guidance