Enhanced Neuron Growth and Electrical Activity by a Supramolecular Netrin-1 Mimetic Nanofiber

Cara S Smith, Zaida Álvarez, Ruomeng Qiu, Ivan R Sasselli, Tristan Clemons, J Alberto Ortega, Marcos Vilela-Picos, Haley Wellman, Evangelos Kiskinis, Samuel I Stupp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurotrophic factors are essential not only for guiding the organization of the developing nervous system but also for supporting the survival and growth of neurons after traumatic injury. In the central nervous system (CNS), inhibitory factors and the formation of a glial scar after injury hinder the functional recovery of neurons, requiring exogenous therapies to promote regeneration. Netrin-1, a neurotrophic factor, can initiate axon guidance, outgrowth, and branching, as well as synaptogenesis, through activation of deleted in colorectal cancer (DCC) receptors. We report here the development of a nanofiber-shaped supramolecular mimetic of netrin-1 with monomers that incorporate a cyclic peptide sequence as the bioactive component. The mimetic structure was found to activate the DCC receptor in primary cortical neurons using low molar ratios of the bioactive comonomer. The supramolecular nanofibers enhanced neurite outgrowth and upregulated maturation as well as pre- and postsynaptic markers over time, resulting in differences in electrical activity similar to neurons treated with the recombinant netrin-1 protein. The results suggest the possibility of using the supramolecular structure as a therapeutic to promote regenerative bioactivity in CNS injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19887-19902
Number of pages16
JournalACS Nano
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes


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