Research Training Group 2154 - Materials for Brain

Project 7: Christina Schmitt

Influence of neuroimplant materials on healthy cells of the CNS

In this highly interdisciplinary project, my aim is to identify the mechanistics of the cellular response of healthy brain cells (e.g. neurons, astrocytes or microglia) towards different implant materials (produced by the material scientists).
Implant materials can cause foreign body reactions of the surrounding healthy brain tissue, causing reactions such as astrogliosis, glial scar formation or the infiltration of immune cells to the implant site. Therefore, it is of major importance to know and to understand those reactions, since the cells not only can cause an inflammative reaction that may lead to the rejection of the implant, but also can influence the function of the implant (e.g. release kinetics of drugs from the implant to the surrounding tissue).
Different in vitro culturing techniques, such as primary cell cultures from mice or rats respective human cell lines, as well as ex vivo techniques e.g. the use of organotypic brain slices from mice, help me to test the implants on the reaction they cause in healthy brain tissue. In this context, I am investigating the acute as well as chronic response (short- respective long-term studies) of healthy brain cells/tissue regarding their signaling profile as well as their cellular effects. Moreover, I am testing different bioactive compounds that may reduce local reactions towards the implant materials.
As a counterplay I am working on the one hand very close to the material scientists to improve materials’ properties and on the other hand with the biological project P8 to test relevant therapeutic compounds for GBM therapy in vitro, respective to develop new culturing models for a better understanding of the cell-implant as well as cell-drug-implant reactions. Knowing the reactions on specific materials, we will be able to choose materials with faint adverse effects for brain applications in future.