Controlling and improving neuronal cell migration and neurite outgrowth are critical elements of tissue engineering applications and development of artificial neuronal interfaces. To this end, a promising approach exploits nano/microstructured surfaces, which have been demonstrated to be capable of tuning neuronal differentiation, polarity, migration and neurite orientation. Here, we investigate the neurite contact guidance of leech neurons on plastic gratings (GRs; anisotropic topographies composed of alternating lines of grooves and ridges). By high-resolution microscopy, we quantitatively evaluate the changes in tubulin cytoskeleton organization and cellmorphology and in the neurite and growth cone development. The topography-reading process of leech neurons on GRs is mediated by filopodia and is more responsive to 4-mm-period GRs than to smaller period GRs. Leech neuron behaviour on GRs is finally compared and validated with several other neuronal cells, from murine differentiated embryonic stem cells and primary hippocampal neurons to differentiated human neuroblastoma cells.
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