Polyaniline nano-needles into electrospun bio active fibres support in vitro astrocyte response†
Recent studies have proposed that the bioelectrical response of glial cells, called astrocytes, currently represents a key target for neuroregenerative purposes. Here, we propose the fabrication of electrospun nanofibres containing gelatin and polyaniline (PANi) synthesized in the form of nano-needles (PnNs) as electrically conductive scaffolds to support the growth and functionalities of primary astrocytes. We report a fine control of the morphological features in terms of fibre size and spatial distribution and fibre patterning, i.e. random or aligned fibre organization, as revealed by SEM- and TEM-supported image analysis. We demonstrate that the peculiar morphological properties of fibres – i.e., the fibre size scale and alignment – drive the adhesion, proliferation, and functional properties of primary cortical astrocytes. In addition, the gradual transmission of biochemical and biophysical signals due to the presence of PnNs combined with the presence of gelatin results in a permissive and guiding environment for astrocytes. Accordingly, the functional properties of astrocytes measured via cell patch-clamp experiments reveal that PnNs do not alter the bioelectrical properties of resting astrocytes, thus setting the scene for the use of PnN-loaded nanofibres as bioconductive platforms for interfacing astrocytes and controlling their bioelectrical properties.