Neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) fail to regenerate their axons after injury or in degenerative disease, and stimulating regenerative growth remains a major goal of neuroscience. Mechanical tension plays a key role in stimulating axon growth in vitro and in vivo and might be used to enhance regeneration. Simply applying a tensile force to a neuron or an axon can stimulate neurite initiation or axon elongation. We are exploring novel nanotechnology-based approaches by which magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) could be used to generate tensile forces and manipulate axons to elongate, to overcome inhibitory substrates, and to enhance the trophic signaling of axon growth. We have investigated how MNPs interact with optic nerve and spinal cord tissue in vivo and CNS neurons in vitro. We asked whether these nanoparticles can be incorporated into axons and cells. In vivo, MNPs were localized to the site of injection with little to no particle-specific toxicity detected. In vitro, we found MNP endocytosis by embryonic and postnatal retinal ganglion cells and embryonic hippocampal cells. Ongoing experiments are directed at identifying the subcellular localization of the MNPs, functionalizing MNPs for optimized binding to axons, and then, using magnetic fields to exert forces on neuronal growth cones in vitro and in vivo.
Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: 2, Technical Proceedings of the 2007 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show, Volume 2
Published: May 20, 2007
Pages: 791 - 794
Industry sector: Medical & Biotech
Topicss: Biomaterials, Cancer Nanotechnology