Graphene Oxide Substrate Promotes Neurotrophic Factor Secretion and Survival of Human Schwann-Like Adipose Mesenchymal Stromal Cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Steffan Llewellyn
  • Cian Bartlam


Mesenchymal stromal cells from adipose tissue (AD-MSCs) exhibit favourable clinical traits for autologous transplantation and can develop a ‘Schwann-like’ phenotype (sAD-MSCs) to improve peripheral nerve regeneration, where severe injuries yield insufficient recovery. However, sAD-MSCs regress without biochemical stimulation and detach from conduits under unfavourable transplant conditions, negating their paracrine effects. Graphene-derived materials support AD-MSC attachment, regulating cell adhesion and function through physiochemistry and topography. We report graphene oxide (GO) as a suitable substrate for human sAD-MSCs incubation towards severe peripheral nerve injuries, through evaluating transcriptome changes, neurotrophic factor expression over a 7-day period, and cell viability in apoptotic conditions. Transcriptome changes from GO incubation across four patients were minor compared to biological variance. Nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived growth factor (BDNF) and glial-derived growth factor (GDNF) gene expression did not change from sAD-MSCs on GO substrates, but NGF and GDNF protein secretion increased at day 3 and 7. Secretome changes did not improve DRG neuron axon outgrowth or sprouting in conditioned media culture models. Fewer sAD-MSCs detached from GO substrates compared to glass following PBS exposure, which simulated apoptotic conditions. Overall, GO substrates are compatible with sAD-MSC primed for peripheral nerve regeneration strategies and protects cell population in harsh environments.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvanced Biology
Early online date4 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2021