Pyrolytic Carbon Nanograss Enhances Neurogenesis and Dopaminergic Differentiation of Human Midbrain Neural Stem Cells

Afia Asif, Silvia García-López, Arto Heiskanen, Alberto Martínez-Serrano, Stephan Sylvest Keller, Marta P. Pereira, Jenny Emnéus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Advancements in research on the interaction of human neural stem cells (hNSCs) with nanotopographies and biomaterials are enhancing the ability to influence cell migration, proliferation, gene expression, and tailored differentiation toward desired phenotypes. Here, the fabrication of pyrolytic carbon nanograss (CNG) nanotopographies is reported and demonstrated that these can be employed as cell substrates boosting hNSCs differentiation into dopaminergic neurons (DAn), a long-time pursued goal in regenerative medicine based on cell replacement. In the near future, such structures can play a crucial role in the near future for stem-cell based cell replacement therapy (CRT) and bio-implants for Parkinson's disease (PD). The unique combination of randomly distributed nanograss topographies and biocompatible pyrolytic carbon material is optimized to provide suitable mechano-material cues for hNSCs adhesion, division, and DAn differentiation of midbrain hNSCs. The results show that in the presence of the biocoating poly-L-lysine (PLL), the CNG enhances hNSCs neurogenesis up to 2.3-fold and DAn differentiation up to 3.5-fold. Moreover, for the first time, consistent evidence is provided, that CNGs without any PLL coating are not only supporting cell survival but also lead to significantly enhanced neurogenesis and promote hNSCs to acquire dopaminergic phenotype compared to PLL coated topographies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2001108
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
Issue number20
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Carbon nanograss
  • Dopaminergic differentiation
  • Human neural stem cells
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Pyrolytic


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