Simple Synthetic Molecular Hydrogels from Self- Assembling Alkylgalactonamides as Scaffold for 3D Neuronal Cell Growth

Abstract : In this work, we demonstrated that the hydrogel obtained from a very simple and single synthetic molecule, N-heptyl-galactonamide was a suitable scaffold for the growth of neuronal cells in 3D. We evidenced by confocal microscopy the presence of the cells into the gel up to a depth of around 200 µm, demonstrating that the latter was permissive to cell growth and enabled a true 3D colonization and organization. It also supported successfully the differentiation of adult human neuronal stem cells (hNSCs) into both glial and neuronal cells and the development of a really dense neurofilament network. So the gel appears to be a good candidate for neural tissue regeneration. In contrast with other molecular gels described for cell culture, the molecule can be obtained at the gram scale by a one-step reaction. The resulting gel is very soft, a quality in accordance with the aim of growing neuronal cells, that requires low modulus substrates similar to the brain. But because of its fragility, specific procedures had to be implemented for its preparation and for cell labeling and confocal microscopy observations. Notably, the implementation of a controlled slow cooling of the gel solution was needed to get a very soft but nevertheless cohesive gel. In these conditions, very wide straight and long micrometric fibers were formed, held together by a second network of flexible narrower nanometric fibers. The two kinds of fibers guided the neurite and glial cell growth in a different way. We also underlined the importance of a tiny difference in the molecular structure on the gel performances: parent molecules, differing by a one-carbon increment in the alkyl chain length, N-hexyl-galactonamide and N-octyl-galactonamide, were not as good as N-heptyl-galactonamide. Their differences were analysed in terms of gel fibers morphology, mechanical properties, solubility, chain parity and cell growth.
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Anaïs Chalard, Laurence Vaysse, Pierre Joseph, Laurent Malaquin, Sandrine Assié-Souleille, et al.. Simple Synthetic Molecular Hydrogels from Self- Assembling Alkylgalactonamides as Scaffold for 3D Neuronal Cell Growth. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, Washington, D.C. : American Chemical Society, 2018, 10 (20), pp.17004 - 17017. ⟨10.1021/acsami.8b01365⟩. ⟨hal-01810656⟩

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