Enhanced nerve cell proliferation and differentiation on electrically conductive scaffolds embedded with graphene and carbon nanotubes

Yuan Sun, Xifeng Liu, Matthew N. George, Sungjo Park, Bipin Gaihre, Andre Terzic, Lichun Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Conduits that promote nerve regeneration are currently of great medical concern, particularly when gaps exist between nerve endings. To address this issue, our laboratory previously developed a nerve conduit from biodegradable poly(caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF) that supports peripheral nerve regeneration. The present study improves upon this work by further developing an electrically conductive, positively charged PCLF scaffold through the incorporation of graphene, carbon nanotubes (CNTs), and [2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl]trimethylammonium chloride (MTAC) (PCLF–Graphene–CNT–MTAC) using ultraviolet (UV) induced photocrosslinking. Scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy were used to assess the incorporation of CNTs and graphene into PCLF–Graphene–CNT–MTAC scaffolds, which displayed enhanced surface roughness and reduced electrochemical impedance when compared to neat PCLF. Scaffolds with these surface modifications also showed improved growth and differentiation of rat pheochromocytoma 12 cells in vitro, with enhanced cell growth, neurite extension, and cellular migration. Furthermore, an increased number of neurite protrusions were observed when the conduit was electrically stimulated. These results show that the electrically conductive PCLF–Graphene–CNT–MTAC nerve scaffolds presented here support the cellular behaviors that are critical for nerve regeneration, ultimately making this material an attractive candidate for regenerative medicine applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • biodegradable polymer
  • carbon nanotube
  • conductive scaffold
  • nerve regeneration
  • tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys


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