The critical chemical and mechanical regulation of folic acid on neural engineering

Gloria B. Kim, Yongjie Chen, Weibo Kang, Jinshan Guo, Russell Payne, Hui Li, Qiong Wei, Julianne Baker, Cheng Dong, Sulin Zhang, Pak Kin Wong, Elias B. Rizk, Jiazhi Yan, Jian Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mandate of folic acid supplementation in grained products has reduced the occurrence of neural tube defects by one third in the U.S since its introduction by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998. However, the advantages and possible mechanisms of action of using folic acid for peripheral nerve engineering and neurological diseases still remain largely elusive. Herein, folic acid is described as an inexpensive and multifunctional niche component that modulates behaviors in different cells in the nervous system. The multiple benefits of modulation include: 1) generating chemotactic responses on glial cells, 2) inducing neurotrophin release, and 3) stimulating neuronal differentiation of a PC-12 cell system. For the first time, folic acid is also shown to enhance cellular force generation and global methylation in the PC-12 cells, thereby enabling both biomechanical and biochemical pathways to regulate neuron differentiation. These findings are evaluated in vivo for clinical translation. Our results suggest that folic acid-nerve guidance conduits may offer significant benefits as a low-cost, off-the-shelf product for reaching the functional recovery seen with autografts in large sciatic nerve defects. Consequently, folic acid holds great potential as a critical and convenient therapeutic intervention for neural engineering, regenerative medicine, medical prosthetics, and drug delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-516
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Folic acid
  • Medical prosthetics
  • Neural engineering
  • Regenerative medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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