Developing 3D in-vitro models of mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Uniaxial Compression Testing

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a multiscale disease that initiates at the cellular level. Thus, gaining a rigorous understanding of the deformation-injury relationship in neurons is pivotal for gaining a better understanding of TBI as a disease. Our lab focuses on the spatiotemporal injury evolution of single neurons in physiologically-realistic 3D in vitro settings to understand the role of impact strain and strain rate on neuronal survivability. 

 

Tunable Hydrogel Culture Models

The current gold standard for 3D in-vitro neuronal models uses hydrogels consisting of reconstructed basement membrane proteins such as collagen I, collagen IV, laminin, and fibronectin. These hydrogel models, however, are often too heterogeneous or undercharacterized to draw informed conclusions about mechanical stresses at the cellular level. By developing hydrogels with more homogenous microstructures and characterizing their material characteristics we aim to investigate the stress-strain relationship of neuronal injury in 3D in-vitro models.  

 

Fibrous network in collagen with neuron at top. Image credit: BIOL2040 Leduc BioImaging facility.