Electrospinning 3D scaffolds for use in neural tissue engineering

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Chemical Engineering; Department of Biomedical Engineering


Polymer nanofiber scaffolds for use in neural tissue engineering have been fabricated via electrospinning of poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) directly onto a 3D printed support. Previously, the investigators have shown success in promoting the directed growth of neural axons on highly aligned PLLA substrates both in vitro and in vivo. However, one criticism of the earlier in vitro studies is that by spinning fibers on a flat, two-dimensional surface, the growth of the axons is restricted to one plane. Thus the axon-to-fiber attachment may not be the sole mechanism for aligning the growth of the axons along the fibers, and the channels between the fibers and the substrate could contribute to the results. Using 3D-printing, elevated or “bridge” spinning stages were made with supports at varying heights, allowing the fibers to be suspended 2 to 5 mm above the substrate surface in different configurations. This 3D structure promotes better access of in vitro cell cultures on the fibers to the growth media during incubation, reduces substrate effects, allows more degrees of freedom for axonal growth, and more closely simulates the growth environment found in vivo. Using these 3D stages, we have electrospun free-standing, highly-aligned pure PLLA fiber scaffolds. We are exploring spinning coaxial fibers with a PLLA sheath and a second core polymer. These coaxial fiber scaffold structures offer additional opportunities for in situ delivery of growth agents and/or electrical stimulation for improved axonal growth results.

Publication Title

Symposium LL – Soft Electronics―From Electronic Skin to Reliable Neural Interfaces