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Keywords:

  • glial scar;
  • agarose;
  • controlled 3D interface;
  • glycosaminoglycan;
  • laminin

Abstract

Glial scar formation plays a critical role in the regenerative failure in the central nervous system of adult mammals through the formation of mechanical or biochemical barriers as a result of its molecular composition. In this study, we report an in vitro model to study growth-cone behavior at controlled 3D interfaces using layered agarose hydrogels. The behavior of growth cones from embryonic day 9 (E9) chick dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) at interfaces that were mismatched in terms of their elasticity or chondroitin sulfate content was quantitatively determined. A mechanical barrier formed by the elasticity mismatch of layered agarose gels greatly influenced the ability of neurites from E9 DRGs to cross the 3D interface. To form chondroitin sulfate-rich interfaces, chondroitin sulfate B was covalently coupled to agarose hydrogel. Compared with unmodified agarose gels, the presence of CS-B-modified agarose gels at the interface significantly inhibited E9 DRGs neurites. After treatment of CS-B-modified agarose gels with chondroitinase ABC, the inhibitory effects of CS-B at the interface were significantly decreased. The effect of doping CS-B gels with laminin 1 (LN-1)-coupled agarose gels was investigated as a potential strategy to overcome inhibitory interfaces. When CS-B agarose gels were doped with LN-1-coupled agarose gels, DRG neurite's ability to cross 3D interfaces was significantly enhanced compared with that of non-LN-1-containing interfaces presenting equivalent CS-B. Our in vitro model may be used to study the influence of individual components of glial scar on inhibition as well as to design strategies to overcome this inhibition. J. Neurosci. Res. 66:303–310, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.