Recently, a novel substrate known as an electrospun polylactic acid (PLLA) microtube array membrane (MTAM) was successfully developed as a cell coculture platform. Structurally, this substrate is made up of one-to-one connected, ultrathin, submicron scale fibers that are arranged in an arrayed formation. Its unique structure confers several key advantages which are beneficial in a cell coculture system. In this study, the interaction between rat fetal neural stem cells (NSC) and astrocytes was examined by comparing the outcome of a typical Transwell-based coculture system and that of an electrospun PLLA MTAM-based coculture system. Compared to tissue culture polystyrene (TCP) and Transwell coculture inserts, a superior cell viability of NSC was observed when cultured in lumens of electrospun PLLA MTAM (with supportive immunostaining images). Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction revealed a strong interaction between astrocytes and NSC through a higher expression of doublecortin and a lower expression of nestin. These data demonstrate that MTAM is clearly a better coculture platform than the traditional Transwell system.
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