Neurite outgrowth in fibrin gels is regulated by substrate stiffness

Alan J. Man, Hillary Davis, Aki Itoh, Jonathan Kent Leach, Peter Bannerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Fibrin is a promising matrix for use in promoting nerve repair given its natural occurrence in peripheral nerve injuries, and the biophysical properties of this matrix can be regulated to modulate tissue regeneration. In this study, we examined the effect of physical and mechanical properties of fibrin gels on dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurite extension. Increases in fibrinogen concentration increased the number of fibrin strands, resulting in decreased pore size and increased stiffness. Neurite extension was reduced when DRG explants were cultured within fibrin gels of increasing fibrinogen concentrations (from 9.5 to 141mg/mL). The addition of NaCl also increased the number of fibrin strands, reducing fiber diameter and porosity, while increasing mechanical strength, and reductions in neurite extension correlated with increases in NaCl content. We determined that neurite extension within fibrin gels is dependent on fibrinolysis and is mediated by the secretion of serine proteases and matrix metalloproteinases by entrapped DRGs, as confirmed by culturing cells in the presence of inhibitors against these enzymes and real-time-polymerase chain reaction. Taken together, the results of this study provide new insight into the effect of fibrin gel biophysical properties on neurite extension and suggest new opportunities to improve the efficacy of these materials when used as nerve guidance conduits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2931-2942
Number of pages12
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Issue number23-24
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Medicine(all)


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