The use of neural scaffolds with a highly defined microarchitecture, fabricated with standard techniques such as electrospinning and microfluidic spinning, requires surgery for their application to the site of injury. To circumvent the risk associated with aciurgy, new strategies for treatment are sought. This has led to an increase in the quantity of research into injectable hydrogels in recent years. However, little research has been conducted into controlling the building blocks within these injectable hydrogels to produce similar scaffolds with a highly defined microarchitecture. "Magnetic particle string" and biomimetic amphiphile self-assembly are some of the methods currently available to achieve this purpose. Here, we developed a "magnetic anchor" method to improve the orientation of collagen fibres within injectable 3D scaffolds. This procedure uses GMNP (gold magnetic nanoparticle) "anchors" capped with CMPs (collagen mimetic peptides) that "chain" them to collagen fibres. Through the application of a magnetic field during the gelling process, these collagen fibres are aligned accordingly. It was shown in this study that the application of CMP functionalised GMNPs in a magnetic field significantly improves the alignment of the collagen fibres, which, in turn, improves the orientation of PC12 neurites. The growth of these neurite extensions, which were shown to be significantly longer, was also improved. The PC12 cells grown in collagen scaffolds fabricated using the "magnetic anchor" method shows comparable cellular viability to that of the untreated collagen scaffolds. This capability of remote control of the alignment of fibres within injectable collagen scaffolds opens up new strategic avenues in the research for treating debilitating neural tissue pathologies.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.