Understanding neural differentiation and the development of complex neurite networks in three-dimensional matrices is critical for neural tissue engineering in vitro. In this study we describe for the first time the growth of human stem cell-derived neurons on solid polystyrene matrices coated with bioactive molecules. Highly porous foams were prepared from poly(styrene/ divinylbenzene) using a high internal phase emulsion (HIPE) as a template to create the porous structure. The resulting polyHIPE matrices were readily coated with aqueous-based solutions including poly-d-lysine and laminin. Human neurons adhered well to poly-d-lysine coated surfaces and extended neural processes, however, neurite outgrowth was particularly enhanced when polymers also received a coating of laminin. These data clearly demonstrate the potential use of solid polystyrene scaffolds to create three-dimensional environments for cell growth and differentiation. We propose that these robust and stable matrices can be conveniently and routinely used in the tissue culture laboratory to study the behaviour of cells grown in three-dimensions.
- Cell culture