Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Sep 4;24(17):13642. doi: 10.3390/ijms241713642.
Tissue engineering for spinal cord injury (SCI) remains a complex and challenging task. Biomaterial scaffolds have been suggested as a potential solution for supporting cell survival and differentiation at the injury site. However, different biomaterials display multiple properties that significantly impact neural tissue at a cellular level. Here, we evaluated the behavior of different cell lines seeded on chitosan (CHI), poly (ε-caprolactone) (PCL), and poly (L-lactic acid) (PLLA) scaffolds. We demonstrated that the surface properties of a material play a crucial role in cell morphology and differentiation. While the direct contact of a polymer with the cells did not cause cytotoxicity or inhibit the spread of neural progenitor cells derived from neurospheres (NPCdn), neonatal rat spinal cord cells (SCC) and NPCdn only attached and matured on PCL and PLLA surfaces. Scanning electron microscopy and computational analysis suggested that cells attached to the material’s surface emerged into distinct morphological populations. Flow cytometry revealed a higher differentiation of neural progenitor cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC-NPC) into glial cells on all biomaterials. Immunofluorescence assays demonstrated that PCL and PLLA guided neuronal differentiation and network development in SCC. Our data emphasize the importance of selecting appropriate biomaterials for tissue engineering in SCI treatment.