Use of conducting polymers to facilitate neurite branching in schizophrenia-related neuronal development
Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a debilitating mental disorder which results in high healthcare and loss of productivity costs to society. This disease remains poorly understood, however there is increasing evidence suggesting a role for oxidative damage in the disease etiology. We aimed to examine the effect of the conducting polymer polypyrrole on the growth and morphology of both wildtype and neuregulin-1 knock out (NRG-1 +/−) explant cells. Polypyrrole is an organic conducting polymer known to be cytocompatible and capable of acting as a platform for effective stimulation of neurons. Here we demonstrate for the first time the ability of this material to mediate processes occurring in disease affected neurons: schizophrenic model cortical neurons. Prefrontal cortical cells were grown on conducting polymer scaffolds of specific composition and showed significantly increased neurite branching and outgrowth length on the polymers compared to controls. Concurrently, a more significant enhancement was seen in both parameters in the NRG-1 +/− model cells. This finding implies that conducting polymers such as polypyrrole may be utilised to overcome neuro-functional deficits associated with neurological disease in humans.