Nanofiber matrices to direct neural stem cell differentiation

Directed Neurite Growth from Human PSC-Derived Retinal Ganglion Cells on Aligned Fibers.

The nanofiber matrix also provides an effective extrinsic cue to promote preferential differentiation of stem cells and generate functional progenitors and tissue cells for regenerative therapies. We have demonstrated that nanofibers coated with laminin mediated effective neural stem cell adhesion and induced cell morphology change; and found that nanofiber diameter and alignment is a strong cue for influencing the differentiation of neural stem cells (Christopherson, et al, 2009; Lim, et al, 2010; Mahairaki, et al, 2011). Our recent study showed that human embryonic stem cell (ESC)-derived neural crest stem cells (NCSCs) showed a significantly enhanced and accelerated differentiation towards Schwann cell lineage when differentiated on a uniaxially aligned nanofiber matrix (Ren, et al, 2012). These NCSC-derived Schwann cells could be used as a cell source for enhancing peripheral nerve regeneration. Since aligned nanofibers have also been shown to direct Schwann cell migration, enhance their maturation, and promote guide axonal outgrowth, we have proposed a comprehensive nerve regeneration strategy that combines Schwann cell delivery, nanofiber guidance, and neurotrophic factor delivery to promote axonal regeneration (Krick, et al, 2011).


  1. Christopherson GT, Song H, Mao HQ. (2009). The influence of fiber diameter of electrospun substrates on neural stem cell differentiation and proliferation. Biomaterials. 30(4): 556-564. PMID: 18977025.
  2. Mahairaki V, Lim SH, Christopherson GT, Xu L, Nasonkin I, Yu C, Mao HQ, Koliatsos VE. (2011). Nanofiber matrices promote the neuronal differentiation of human embryonic stem cell-derived neural precursors in vitro. Tissue Eng Part A. 17(5-6): 855-863. PMID: 20973749; PMCID: PMC3043983.
  3. Ren YJ, Zhang S, Mi R, Liu Q, Zeng X, Rao M, Hoke A, Mao HQ. (2013). Enhanced differentiation of human neural crest stem cells towards the Schwann cell lineage by aligned electrospun fiber matrix. Acta Biomater. 9(8): 7727-7736. PMID: 23628775.
  4. Sluch VM, Davis CH, Ranganathan V, Kerr JM, Krick K, Martin R, Berlinicke CA, Marsh-Armstrong N, Diamond JS, Mao HQ, Zack DJ. (2015). Differentiation of human ESCs to retinal ganglion cells using a CRISPR engineered reporter cell line. Sci. Rep. 5: 16595. PMID: 26563826