Differential stimulation of neurotrophin release by the biocompatible nano-material (carbon nanotube) in primary cultured neurons

Yun Gi Kim, Jong Wan Kim, Hee Jang Pyeon, Jung Keun Hyun, Ji Young Hwang, Seong Jun Choi, Ja Yeon Lee, Ferenc Deák, Hae Won Kim, Young Il Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


In order to develop novel, effective therapies for central nervous system regeneration, it is essential to better understand the role of neurotrophic factors and to design, accordingly, better artificial scaffolds to support both neurite outgrowth and synapse formation. Both nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor are major factors in neural survival, development, synaptogenesis, and synaptic connectivity of primary cultured neurons. As a prime candidate coating material for such neural cultures, carbon nanotubes offer unique structural, mechanical, and electrical properties. In this study, carbon nanotubes coated glass-coverslips were used as the matrix of a primary neural culture system used to investigate the effects of carbon nanotubes on neurite outgrowth and nerve growth factor/brain-derived neurotrophic factor release and expression. For these purposes, we performed comparative analyses of primary cultured neurons on carbon nanotubes coated, non-coated, and Matrigel-coated coverslips. The morphological findings showed definite carbon nanotubes effects on the neurite outgrowths and synaptogenic figures in both cortical and hippocampal neurons when compared with the non-coated negative control. Although the carbon nanotubes did not change neurotrophin expression levels, it stimulated brain-derived neurotrophic factor release into the media from both types of neurons. Accordingly, we suggest a different mechanism of action between carbon nanotubes and Matrigel in relation to the specific neurotrophic factors. Since carbon nanotubes supply long-term extracellular molecular cues for the survival and neurite outgrowths of cultured neurons, the results from this study will contribute to an understanding of carbon nanotubes biological effects and provide new insight into their role in the secretion of neurotrophic factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)790-797
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomaterials Applications
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Cortical and hippocampal neurons
  • Matrigel
  • Neurite outgrowth
  • Primary neural culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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