Bridging the Divide between Neuroprosthetic Design, Tissue Engineering and Neurobiology
Model silicon intracortical probes with microfluidic channels were fabricated and tested to examine the feasibility of using diffusion-mediated delivery to deliver therapeutic agents into the volume of tissue exhibiting reactive responses to implanted devices. Three-dimensional probe structures with microfluidic channels were fabricated using surface micromachining and deep reactive ion etching (DRIE) techniques. In vitro functional tests of devices were performed using fluorescence microscopy to record the transient release of Texas Red labeled transferrin (TR-transferrin) and dextran (TR-dextran) from the microchannels into 1% w/v agarose gel. In vivo performance was characterized by inserting devices loaded with TR-transferrin into the premotor cortex of adult male rats. Brain sections were imaged using confocal microscopy. Diffusion of TR-transferrin into the extracellular space and uptake by cells up to 400 microm from the implantation site was observed in brain slices taken 1 h postinsertion. The reactive tissue volume, as indicated by the presence of phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), was characterized using immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy. The reactive tissue volume extended 600, 800, and 400 microm radially from the implantation site at 1 h, 24 h, and 6 weeks following insertion, respectively. These results indicate that diffusion-mediated delivery can be part of an effective intervention strategy for the treatment of reactive tissue responses around chronically implanted intracortical probes.