Chitin and carbon nanotube composites as biocompatible scaffolds for neuron growth
The design of biocompatible implants for neuron repair/regeneration ideally requires high cell adhesion as well as good electrical conductivity. Here, we have shown that plasma-treated chitin carbon nanotube composite scaffolds show very good neuron adhesion as well as support of synaptic function of neurons. The addition of carbon nanotubes to a chitin biopolymer improved the electrical conductivity and the assisted oxygen plasma treatment introduced more oxygen species onto the chitin nanotube scaffold surface. Neuron viability experiments showed excellent neuron attachment onto plasma-treated chitin nanotube composite scaffolds. The support of synaptic function was evident on chitin/nanotube composites, as confirmed by PSD-95 staining. The biocompatible and electrically-conducting chitin nanotube composite scaffold prepared in this study can be used for in vitro tissue engineering of neurons and, potentially, as an implantable electrode for stimulation and repair of neurons.