Fabbro, Bosi 2012

2012 - ACS Chemical Neuroscience 2012, 3, 611-618

Carbon Nanotubes: Artificial Nanomaterials to Engineer Single Neurons and Neuronal Networks

Alessandra Fabbro, Susanna Bosi, Laura Ballerini, Maurizio Prato 


In the past decade, nanotechnology applications to the nervous system have often involved the study and the use of novel nanomaterials to improve the diagnosis and therapy of neurological diseases. In the field of nanomedicine, carbon nanotubes are evaluated as promising materials for diverse therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Besides, carbon nanotubes are increasingly employed in basic neuroscience approaches, and they have been used in the design of neuronal interfaces or in that of scaffolds promoting neuronal growth in vitro. Ultimately, carbon nanotubes are thought to hold the potential for the development of innovative neurological implants. In this framework, it is particularly relevant to document the impact of interfacing such materials with nerve cells. Carbon nanotubes were shown, when modified with biologically active compounds or functionalized in order to alter their charge, to affect neurite outgrowth and branching. Notably, purified carbon nanotubes used as scaffolds can promote the formation of nanotube–neuron hybrid networks, able per se to affect neuron integrative abilities, network connectivity, and synaptic plasticity. We focus this review on our work over several years directed to investigate the ability of carbon nanotube platforms in providing a new tool for nongenetic manipulations of neuronal performance and network signaling.


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