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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 906819, 7 pages
Research Article

Spider Silk as Guiding Biomaterial for Human Model Neurons

1Division of Cell Biology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Bischofsholer Damm15/102, 30173 Hannover, Germany
2Department of Plastic, Hand and Reconstructive Surgery, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Straße 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany
3Center for Systems Neuroscience, Hannover, Germany

Received 4 November 2013; Revised 27 February 2014; Accepted 20 March 2014; Published 18 May 2014

Academic Editor: Aijun Wang

Copyright © 2014 Frank Roloff et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Over the last years, a number of therapeutic strategies have emerged to promote axonal regeneration. An attractive strategy is the implantation of biodegradable and nonimmunogenic artificial scaffolds into injured peripheral nerves. In previous studies, transplantation of decellularized veins filled with spider silk for bridging critical size nerve defects resulted in axonal regeneration and remyelination by invading endogenous Schwann cells. Detailed interaction of elongating neurons and the spider silk as guidance material is unknown. To visualize direct cellular interactions between spider silk and neurons in vitro, we developed an in vitro crossed silk fiber array. Here, we describe in detail for the first time that human (NT2) model neurons attach to silk scaffolds. Extending neurites can bridge gaps between single silk fibers and elongate afterwards on the neighboring fiber. Culturing human neurons on the silk arrays led to an increasing migration and adhesion of neuronal cell bodies to the spider silk fibers. Within three to four weeks, clustered somata and extending neurites formed ganglion-like cell structures. Microscopic imaging of human neurons on the crossed fiber arrays in vitro will allow for a more efficient development of methods to maximize cell adhesion and neurite growth on spider silk prior to transplantation studies.