The migration and differentiation of adult neural stem cells (aNSCs) are believed to be strongly influenced by the spatial distribution of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in the stem cell niche. In vitro culture platform, which involves the specific spatial distribution of ECM protein, could offer novel tools for better understanding of aNSC behavior in the spatial pattern of ECM proteins. In this work, we applied soft-lithographic technique to design simple and reproducible laminin (LN)-polylysine cell culture substrates and investigated how aNSCs respond to the various spatial distribution of laminin, one of ECM proteins enriched in the aNSC niche. We found that aNSC preferred to migrate and attach to LN stripes, and aNSC-derived neurons and astrocytes showed significant difference in motility towards LN stripes. By changing the spacing of LN stripes, we were able to control the alignment of neurons and astrocytes. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time to investigate the differential cellular responses of aNSCs on ECM protein (LN) and cell adhesive synthetic polymer (PDL) using surface micropatterns. Our findings would provide a deeper understanding in astrocyte-neuron interactions as well as ECM-stem cell interactions.
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