Astrocytes play a pivotal role in the development and function of the central nervous system by regulating synaptic activity and supporting and guiding growing axons. It is therefore a central therapeutic and scientific challenge to develop means to control astrocytic survival and growth. We cultured primary hippocampal astrocytes on a crystalline three-dimensional (3D) aragonite biomatrix prepared from the exoskeleton of the coral Porites lutea. Such culturing led to the formation of astrocytic tissue-like 3D structures in which the cells had a higher survival rate than astrocytes grown in conventional cell culture. Within the pore void areas, multiple layers of astrocytic processes formed concave sheet structures that had no physical contact with the surface. The astrocytes attached to the crystalline perpendicular edges of the crystalline template surface extended processes in 3D and expressed glial fibrillary acidic protein. The astrocytes also expressed gap junctions and developed partly synchronized cytosolic Ca2+ oscillations. Preliminary in vivo models showed that astrocytic networks were also developed when the matrices were implanted into cortical areas of postnatal rat brains. Hence, we suggest that the biomatrix is a biocompatible supportive scaffold for astrocytes and may be exploited in applications for neuronal tissue restoration in injured or diseased central nervous system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology