Chemical and topographical cues can be used to guide dissociated neurons into user-defined network geometries on artificial substrates, yet control of neuron polarity (differentiation into axons and dendrites) remains an elusive goal. We developed a dual guidance cue strategy for directing morphological maturity in neurons in vitro using combined chemical and topographical guidance cues on glass substrates. The surface chemistry provides chemical attraction and repulsion for controlling neuron placement and outgrowth, while the topography provides additional surface area for neuron attachment. Poly- l-lysine (PLL) was adsorbed into etched trenches in glass substrates, and an acetone liftoff process was used to produce bifunctional surfaces with a hydrophobic hexamethyldisilazane (HMDS) background and trench patterns of PLL. We examined the cytoarchitectural polarization of dissociated hippocampal pyramidal neurons on guidance cues designed to promote rapid outgrowth of neurites onto continuous line features and delayed neurite outgrowth onto interrupted line features. An optimum distance of approximately 5 μm between the cell body attachment node and the first interrupted line guidance cue led to specific cytoarchitectural polarization of ≥60% of neurons by 3 days of culture in vitro. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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