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Biosafety assessment of conducting nanostructured materials by using co-cultures of neurons and astrocytes
28 August 2018

Mathieu P. Lichtenstein, Nina M. Carretero, Estela Pérez, Marta Pulido-Salgado, Javier Mora—Vico, Carme Solà, Nieves Casañ-Pastor, Cristina Suñola. NeuroToxicology. Volume 68, September 2018. 

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuro.2018.07.010

Neural electrode implants are made mostly of noble materials. We have synthesized a nanostructured material combining the good electrochemical properties of iridium oxide (IrOx) and carbon-nanotubes (CNT) and the properties of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT). IrOx-CNT-PEDOT charge storage capacity was lower than that of IrOx and IrOx-CNT, but higher than that of other PEDOT-containing hybrids and Pt. Cyclic voltammetry, SEM, XPS and micro-Raman spectroscopy suggest that PEDOT encapsulates IrOx and CNT.

In our search for a cell culture platform that could optimize modelling the in vivo environment, we determined cell viability, neuron and astrocyte functionality and the response of astrocytes to an inflammatory insult by using primary cultures of neurons, of astrocytes and co-cultures of both.

The materials tested (based on IrOx, CNT and PEDOT, as well as Pt as a reference) allowed adhesion and proliferation of astrocytes and full compatibility for neurons grown in co-cultures. Functionality assays show that uptake of glutamate in neuron-astrocyte co-culture was significantly higher than the sum of the uptake in astrocytes and neurons. In co-cultures on IrOx, IrOx-CNT and IrOx-CNT-PEDOT, glutamate was released by a depolarizing stimulus and induced a significant increase in intracellular calcium, supporting the expression of functional NMDA/glutamate receptors. LPS-induced inflammatory response in astrocytes showed a decreased response in NOS2 and COX2 mRNA expression for IrOx-CNT-PEDOT.

Results indicate that neuron-astrocyte co-cultures are a reliable model for assessing the biocompatibility and safety of nanostructured materials, evidencing also that hybrid IrOx-CNT-PEDOT nanocomposite materials may offer larger resistance to inflammatory insults.

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Biosafety assessment of conducting nanostructured materials by using co-cultures of neurons and astrocytes