Cerebrospinal fluid replacement solutions promote neuroglia migratory behaviors and spinal explant outgrowth in microfluidic culture

Richard N. Cliver, Brian Ayers, Alyssa Brady, Bonnie L. Firestein, Maribel Vazquez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Disorders of the nervous system (NS) impact millions of adults, worldwide, as a consequence of traumatic injury, genetic illness, or chronic health conditions. Contemporary studies have begun to incorporate neuroglia into emerging NS therapies to harness the regenerative potential of glial-mediated synapses in the brain and spinal cord. However, the role of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that surrounds neuroglia and interfaces with their associated synapses remains only partially explored. The flow of CSF within subarachnoid spaces (SAS) circulates essential polypeptides, metabolites, and growth factors that directly impact neural response and recovery via signaling with healthy glia. Despite the availability of artificial CSF solutions used in neurosurgery and NS treatments, tissue engineering projects continue to use cell culture media, such as Neurobasal (NB) and Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium (DMEM), for development and characterization of many transplantable cells, matrixes, and integrated cellular systems. The current study examined in vitro behaviors of glial Schwann cells (ShC) and spinal cord explants (SCE) within a CSF replacement solution, Elliott's B Solution (EBS), used widely in the treatment of NS disorders. Our tests used EBS to create defined chemical microenvironments of extracellular factors within a glial line (gLL) microfluidic device, previously described by our group. The gLL is comparable in scale to the in vivo SAS that envelopes endogenous CSF and enables molecular transport via mechanisms of convective diffusion. Our results illustrate that EBS solutions facilitate ShC survival, morphology, and proliferation similar to those measured in traditional DMEM, and additionally support glial chemotactic behaviors in response to brain-derived growth factor (BDNF). Our data indicates that ShC undergo significant chemotaxis toward high and low concentration gradients of BDNF with statistical differences between gradients formed within diluents of EBS and DMEM solutions. Moreover, SCE cultured with EBS solutions facilitated measurement of neurite explant extension commensurate with reported in vivo measurements. This data highlights the translational significance and advantages of incorporating CSF replacement fluids to interrogate cellular behaviors and advance regenerative NS therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-188
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


  • Elliott's B solution
  • Schwann cells
  • brain-derived growth factor
  • chemotaxis
  • convective-diffusion


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