In this paper, a tubular 3D microenvironment created in a calcium alginate hydrogel microtube with respect to the effect of scaffold dimensions on the differentiation of mouse neuronal stem cells (mNSCs) is evaluated. Five types of hydrogel microtubes with different core diameters (≈65-200 μm) and shell thicknesses (≈30-110 μm) are fabricated by using a double coaxial microfluidic device, and differentiation of encapsulated mNSCs is induced by changing the growth medium to the differentiation medium. The influence of the microtube geometries is examined by using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and fluorescent immunocytochemistry. The analyses reveal that differences in microtube thickness within 30-110 μm affected the relative Tuj1 expression but do not affect the morphology of encapsulated mNSCs. The diameters of cores influence both the relative Tuj1 expression and morphology of the differentiated neurons. It is found that the tubular microenvironment with a core diameter of less than ≈100 μm contributes to forming highly viable and aligned neural tissue. The tubular microenvironment can provide an effective method for constructing microfiber-shaped neural tissues with geometrically controlled differentiation induction.
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