3D cell culture platform based on direct laser written microtowers

(Nanowerk News) In a new paper in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces ("Direct Laser Writing of Tubular Microtowers for 3D Culture of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neuronal Cells"), researchers in Finland describe the optimization of the fabrication process for a novel, detailed, 3D cell culture platform based on direct laser written tubular microtowers and human neuronal cells.
Although two-photon polymerization (2PP-DLW) – a computer-assisted laser-based fabrication technique – is not an easily upscalable fabrication method such as electrospinning, it enables the repeatable production of platforms with fine details for in vitro applications. It is a powerfull tool to produce cell culture platforms with highly ordered geometries that recapitulate the structure and size scale of natural 3D cell environments.
SEM images of neuronal cells inside and outside of different microtower designs at the one-week time point. The images of the three upper rows show the towers from the tilt angles of 60° (first and second column) and 0° (third column). The last row illustrates the close-ups of the suspended neurite bridges extending between adjacent towers. Suspended neurite bridges are marked with arrowheads. Scale bars represent 20 µm. (© ACS) (click on image to enlarge)
These easily tunable platforms can be used for studying the effects of the layout and the design (shapes and dimensions) on cell behavior.
The aim of this present study was to polymerize different microtower designs including a design with intraluminal longitudinal micropillars that mimic the axonal tracts in vivo.
In particular, the team investigated the ability of the towers to support the adhesion, growth, and orientation of human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived neuronal cells.
The researchers fabricated six different microtower designs. They demonsytrated that these cell culture platforms are efficient for the long-term 3D culturing of human stem cell-derived neuronal cells.
"Our proposed culturing concept may be used as a substitute for the hydrogel matrix commonly used to mechanically support the 3D growth of cells," the authors conclude their report. "The platform is especially suitable for studying cell behavior in a 3D environment, for example, the orientation and migration of neuronal cells, both of which are important aspects to consider in future studies."
Michael Berger By – Michael is author of three books by the Royal Society of Chemistry:
Nano-Society: Pushing the Boundaries of Technology,
Nanotechnology: The Future is Tiny, and
Nanoengineering: The Skills and Tools Making Technology Invisible
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