Interconnected network of ganglion-like neural cell spheres formed on hydrozoan skeleton Academic Article uri icon


  • Identifying scaffolds supporting in vitro reconstruction of active neuronal tissues in their 3-dimensional (3D) conformation is a major challenge in tissue engineering. We have previously shown that aragonite coral exoskeletons support the development of neuronal tissue from hippocampal neurons and astrocytes. Here we show for the first time that the porous aragonite skeleton obtained from bio-fabricated hydrozoan Millepora dichotoma supports the spontaneous organization of dissociated hippocampal cells into highly interconnected 3D ganglion-like tissue formations. The ganglion-like cell spheres expanded hundreds of microns across and included hundreds to thousands of astrocytes and mature neurons, most of them having only cell-cell and no cell-surface interactions. The spheres were linked to the surface directly or through a neck of cells and were interconnected through thick bundles of dendrites, varicosity-bearing axons, and astrocytic processes. Thus, M. dichotoma exoskeleton is a novel scaffold with the unprecedented ability to support a highly ordered organization of neuronal tissue. This unexpected organization opens new opportunities for neuronal tissue regeneration, because the spheres resemble in vivo nervous tissue having high volume of cells associated primarily through cell-cell rather than cell-matrix interactions.

publication date

  • January 1, 2007