Genetic Modulation at the Neural Microelectrode Interface: Methods and Applications
B Winter, etc Micromachines,
The use of implanted microelectrode arrays (MEAs), in the brain, has enabled a greater understanding of neural function, and new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders. Glial encapsulation of the device and the loss of neurons at the device-tissue interface are widely believed to reduce recording quality and limit the functional device-lifetime. The integration of microfluidic channels within MEAs enables the perturbation of the cellular pathways, through defined vector delivery. This provides new approaches to shed light on the underlying mechanisms of the reactive response and its contribution to device performance. In chronic settings, however, tissue ingrowth and biofouling can obstruct or damage the channel, preventing vector delivery. In this study, we describe methods of delivering vectors through chronically implanted, single-shank, “Michigan”-style microfluidic devices, 1–3 weeks, post-implantation. We explored and validated three different approaches for modifying gene expression at the device-tissue interface: viral-mediated overexpression, siRNA-enabled knockdown, and cre-dependent conditional expression. We observed a successful delivery of the vectors along the length of the MEA, where the observed expression varied, depending on the depth of the injury. The methods described are intended to enable vector delivery through microfluidic devices for a variety of potential applications; likewise, future design considerations are suggested for further improvements on the approach.