Neural differentiation on synthetic scaffold materials
The potential of stem cells to differentiate into a variety of subgroups of neural cells makes stem cell differentiation and transplantation a promising candidate for neurodegenerative disorder therapies. However, selective differentiation of stem cells to neurons while preventing glial scar formation is a complex process. Mimicking the natural environment of neural tissue is pivotal, thus various synthetic materials have been developed for this purpose. The synthetic scaffolds can direct stem cells into a neural lineage by including extracellular factors that act on cell fate, which are mainly soluble signals, extracellular matrix proteins and physical factors (e.g. elasticity and topography). This article reviews synthetic materials developed for neural regeneration in terms of their extracellular matrix mimicking properties. Functionalization of synthetic materials by addition of bioactive chemical groups and adjustment of physical properties such as topography, electroactivity and elasticity are discussed.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Biomaterials Science review articles