Mesoporous silica supraparticles (MS-SPs) self-assembled from mesoporous silica nanoparticles are reported on page 4244 by F. Caruso and co-workers. The MS-SPs are effective carriers for the sustained delivery of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Animal studies show that the MS-SPs can be implanted into the cochlea and deliver neurotrophins to prevent the progressive loss of the auditory neurons that normally occurs with deafness.
Platinum (Pt) is the most commonly used metal for stimulating electrodes. This study aims to determine the amount of charge that can be delivered without causing irreversible electrochemical reactions (charge injection capacity; Qinj) of Pt macroelectrodes (geometric surface area > 0.001 cm²) in vitro and in vivo using voltage transient measurements. Pt macroelectrodes were stimulated with biphasic charge-balanced cathodic-first constant-current pulses in phosphate buffered saline. Potential excursions were measured (vs. Ag/AgCl electrode) and used to determine Qinj. The in vitro Qinj were compared to those measured in vivo following: acute and chronic implantation close to the retina; chronic intra-cochlear implantation; and acute subdural implantation, in the cat. Qinj increased with pulse width from 35 to 54 ?C/cm² for respective pulse widths of 100 to 3200 ?s per phase in vitro. Qinj was significantly less in vivo. There was no significant difference in Qinj between acutely (3.84 to 16.6 ?C/cm² with pulse widths of 100 to 3200 ?s) and chronically (6.99 to 15.8 ?C/cm² with pulse widths of 200 to 3200 ?s) implanted suprachoroidal electrodes. Intra-cochlear Qinj was not different to suprachoroidal Qinj while subdural Qinj was significantly less than the suprachoroidal Qinj (p < 0.05). These results have important implications in providing guidelines on Qinj for the safe use of Pt stimulating macroelectrodes and question the relevance of measuring Qinj in vivo using voltage transients.
This paper reports a facile and robust mold-templated technique for the assembly of mesoporous silica (MS) supraparticles and demonstrates their potential as vehicles for codelivery of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and dexamethasone (DEX). The MS supraparticles are assembled using gelatin as a biodegradable adhesive to bind and cross-link the particles. Microfabricated molds made of polydimethylsiloxane are used to control the size and shape of the supraparticles. The obtained mesoporous silica-gelatin hybrid supraparticles (MSG-SPs) are stable in water as well as in organic solvents, such as dimethyl sulfoxide, and efficiently coencapsulate both BDNF and DEX. The MSG-SPs also exhibit sustained release kinetics in simulated physiological conditions (>30 days), making them potential candidates for long-term delivery of therapeutics to the inner ear.
The research goal is to develop a wide-field retinal stimulating array for prosthetic vision. This study aimed at evaluating the efficacy of a suprachoroidal electrode array in evoking visual cortex activity after long term implantation.
Mesoporous silica supraparticles (MS-SPs) are prepared via self-assembly of mesoporous silica nanoparticles under capillary force action in confined droplets. The MS-SPs are effective carriers for sustained drug delivery. Animal studies show that these particles are suitable for chronic intracochlear implantation, and neurotrophins released from the MS-SPs can efficiently rescue primary auditory neurons in an in vivo sensorineural hearing loss model.
Soft, 3D elastomeric structures and composite structures are easy to fabricate using click-e-bricks, and the internal architecture of these structures together with the capabilities built into the bricks themselves provide mechanical, optical, electrical, and fluidic functions.
We have previously shown that neonatal deafness of 7-13 months duration leads to loss of cochleotopy in the primary auditory cortex (AI) that can be reversed by cochlear implant use. Here we describe the effects of a similar duration of deafness and cochlear implant use on temporal processing. Specifically, we compared the temporal resolution of neurons in AI of young adult normal-hearing cats that were acutely deafened and implanted immediately prior to recording with that in three groups of neonatally deafened cats. One group of neonatally deafened cats received no chronic stimulation. The other two groups received up to 8 months of either low- or high-rate (50 or 500 pulses per second per electrode, respectively) stimulation from a clinical cochlear implant, initiated at 10 weeks of age. Deafness of 7-13 months duration had no effect on the duration of post-onset response suppression, latency, latency jitter, or the stimulus repetition rate at which units responded maximally (best repetition rate), but resulted in a statistically significant reduction in the ability of units to respond to every stimulus in a train (maximum following rate). None of the temporal response characteristics of the low-rate group differed from those in acutely deafened controls. In contrast, high-rate stimulation had diverse effects: it resulted in decreased suppression duration, longer latency and greater jitter relative to all other groups, and an increase in best repetition rate and cut-off rate relative to acutely deafened controls. The minimal effects of moderate-duration deafness on temporal processing in the present study are in contrast to its previously-reported pronounced effects on cochleotopy. Much longer periods of deafness have been reported to result in significant changes in temporal processing, in accord with the fact that duration of deafness is a major factor influencing outcome in human cochlear implantees.
An optical fiber-based sensor has been developed to measure the forces at the tip of an electrode array during insertion into the cochlea. The sensor, utilizing optical fiber Bragg grating technology, was incorporated into a custom-designed Pt-banded electrode array for guinea pigs. In vivo experiments were undertaken in which forces at the tip of the array were measured in real time during the insertion. Data were obtained for maximum insertion forces of up to 254 mN. Histology was performed on the excised cochleae with the sensors fixed in position to evaluate the level of insertion trauma. The insertion experiments demonstrated a clear correlation between the applied force and collateral tissue damage.
Electrode impedance increases following implantation and undergoes transitory reduction with onset of electrical stimulation. The studies in this paper measured the changes in access resistance and polarization impedance in vivo before and following electrical stimulation, and recorded the time course of these changes.
One strategy for actuating soft machines (e.g., tentacles, grippers, and simple walkers) uses pneumatic inflation of networks of small channels in an elastomeric material. Although the management of a few pneumatic inputs and valves to control pressurized gas is straightforward, the fabrication and operation of manifolds containing many (>50) independent valves is an unsolved problem. Complex pneumatic manifolds-often built for a single purpose-are not easily reconfigured to accommodate the specific inputs (i.e., multiplexing of many fluids, ranges of pressures, and changes in flow rates) required by pneumatic systems. This paper describes a pneumatic manifold comprising a computer-controlled Braille display and a micropneumatic device. The Braille display provides a compact array of 64 piezoelectric actuators that actively close and open elastomeric valves of a micropneumatic device to route pressurized gas within the manifold. The positioning and geometries of the valves and channels in the micropneumatic device dictate the functionality of the pneumatic manifold, and the use of multi-layer soft lithography permits the fabrication of networks in a wide range of configurations with many possible functions. Simply exchanging micropneumatic devices of different designs enables rapid reconfiguration of the pneumatic manifold. As a proof of principle, a pneumatic manifold controlled a soft machine containing 32 independent actuators to move a ball above a flat surface.
Neural responses to biphasic constant current pulses depend on stimulus pulse parameters such as polarity, duration, amplitude and interphase gap. The objective of this study was to systematically evaluate and optimize stimulus pulse parameters for a suprachoroidal retinal prosthesis.
Extended periods of deafness have profound effects on central auditory system function and organization. Neonatal deafening results in loss of the normal cochleotopic organization of the primary auditory cortex (AI), but environmentally-derived intracochlear electrical stimulation, via a cochlear implant, initiated shortly after deafening, can prevent this loss. We investigated whether such stimulation initiated after an extended period of deafness can restore cochleotopy. In two groups of neonatally-deafened cats, a multi-channel intracochlear electrode array was implanted at 8 weeks of age. One group received only minimal stimulation, associated with brief recordings at 4-6-week intervals, over the following 6 months to check the efficacy of the implant. In the other group, this 6-month period was followed by 6 months of near-continuous intracochlear electrical stimulation from a modified clinical cochlear implant system. We recorded multi-unit clusters in the auditory cortex and used two different methods to define the region of interest in the putative AI. There was no evidence of cochleotopy in any of the minimally stimulated animals, confirming our earlier finding. In three of six chronically stimulated cats there was clear evidence of AI cochleotopy, and in a fourth cat in which the majority of penetrations were in the anterior auditory field there was clear evidence of cochleotopy in that field. The finding that chronic intracochlear electrical stimulation after an extended period of deafness is able to restore cochleotopy in some (but not all) cases has implications for the performance of patients implanted after an extended period of deafness.
After more than 40 years of research, visual prostheses are moving from the laboratory into the clinic. These devices are designed to provide prosthetic vision to the blind by stimulating localized neural populations in one of the retinotopically organized structures of the visual pathway - typically the retina or visual cortex. The long gestation of this research reflects the many significant technical challenges encountered including surgical access, mechanical stability, hardware miniaturization, hermetic encapsulation, high-density electrode arrays, and signal processing. This review provides an introduction to the pathophysiology of blindness; an overview of existing visual prostheses, their advantages and drawbacks; the perceptual effects evoked by electrical stimulation; as well as the role played by plasticity and training in clinical outcomes.
The safety of chronic implantation of a retinal prosthesis in the suprachoroidal space has not been established. This study aimed to determine the safety of a wide-field suprachoroidal electrode array following chronic implantation using histopathologic techniques and electroretinography.
Cochlear implants restore hearing cues in the severe-profoundly deaf by electrically stimulating spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs). However, SGNs degenerate following loss of cochlear hair cells, due at least in part to a reduction in the endogenous neurotrophin (NT) supply, normally provided by hair cells and supporting cells of the organ of Corti. Delivering exogenous NTs to the cochlea can rescue SGNs from degeneration and can also promote the ectopic growth of SGN neurites. This resprouting may disrupt the cochleotopic organization upon which cochlear implants rely to impart pitch cues. Using retrograde labeling and confocal imaging of SGNs, we determined the extent of neurite growth following 28 days of exogenous NT treatment in deafened guinea pigs with and without chronic electrical stimulation (ES). On completion of this treatment, we measured the spread of neural activation to intracochlear ES by recording neural responses across the cochleotopically organized inferior colliculus using multichannel recording techniques. Although NT treatment significantly increased both the length and the lateral extent of growth of neurites along the cochlea compared with deafened controls, these anatomical changes did not affect the spread of neural activation when examined immediately after 28 days of NT treatment. NT treatment did, however, result in lower excitation thresholds compared with deafened controls. These data support the application of NTs for improved clinical outcomes for cochlear implant patients.
This manuscript describes a unique class of locomotive robot: A soft robot, composed exclusively of soft materials (elastomeric polymers), which is inspired by animals (e.g., squid, starfish, worms) that do not have hard internal skeletons. Soft lithography was used to fabricate a pneumatically actuated robot capable of sophisticated locomotion (e.g., fluid movement of limbs and multiple gaits). This robot is quadrupedal; it uses no sensors, only five actuators, and a simple pneumatic valving system that operates at low pressures (< 10 psi). A combination of crawling and undulation gaits allowed this robot to navigate a difficult obstacle. This demonstration illustrates an advantage of soft robotics: They are systems in which simple types of actuation produce complex motion.
Cochlear implants provide partial restoration of hearing for profoundly deaf patients by electrically stimulating spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs); however, these neurons gradually degenerate following the onset of deafness. Although the exogenous application of neurotrophins (NTs) can prevent SGN loss, current techniques to administer NTs for long periods of time have limited clinical applicability. We have used encapsulated choroid plexus cells (NTCells; Living Cell Technologies, Auckland, New Zealand) to provide NTs in a clinically viable manner that can be combined with a cochlear implant. Neonatal cats were deafened and unilaterally implanted with NTCells and a cochlear implant. Animals received chronic electrical stimulation (ES) alone, NTs alone, or combined NTs and ES (ES + NT) for a period of as much as 8 months. The opposite ear served as a deafened unimplanted control. Chronic ES alone did not result in increased survival of SGNs or their peripheral processes. NT treatment alone resulted in greater SGN survival restricted to the upper basal cochlear region and an increased density of SGN peripheral processes. Importantly, chronic ES in combination with NTs provided significant SGN survival throughout a wider extent of the cochlea, in addition to an increased peripheral process density. Re-sprouting peripheral processes were observed in the scala media and scala tympani, raising the possibility of direct contact between peripheral processes and a cochlear implant electrode array. We conclude that cell-based therapy is clinically viable and effective in promoting SGN survival for extended durations of cochlear implant use. These findings have important implications for the safe delivery of therapeutic drugs to the cochlea.
Three-dimensional (3D) microperiodic scaffolds of poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (pHEMA) have been fabricated by direct-write assembly of a photopolymerizable hydrogel ink. The ink is initially composed of physically entangled pHEMA chains dissolved in a solution of HEMA monomer, comonomer, photoinitiator and water. Upon printing 3D scaffolds of varying architecture, the ink filaments are exposed to UV light, where they are transformed into an interpenetrating hydrogel network of chemically cross-linked and physically entangled pHEMA chains. These 3D microperiodic scaffolds are rendered growth compliant for primary rat hippocampal neurons by absorption of polylysine. Neuronal cells thrive on these scaffolds, forming differentiated, intricately branched networks. Confocal laser scanning microscopy reveals that both cell distribution and extent of neuronal process alignment depend upon scaffold architecture. This work provides an important step forward in the creation of suitable platforms for in vitro study of sensitive cell types.
Animal and clinical observations of a reduction in electrode impedance following electrical stimulation encouraged the development of an in vitro model of the electrode-tissue interface. This model was used previously to show an increase in impedance with cell and protein cover over electrodes. In this paper, the model was used to assess the changes in electrode impedance and cell cover following application of a charge-balanced biphasic current pulse train. Following stimulation, a large and rapid drop in total impedance (Z(t)) and access resistance (R(a)) occurred. The magnitude of this impedance change was dependent on the current amplitude used, with a linear relationship determined between R(a) and the resulting cell cover over the electrodes. The changes in impedance due to stimulation were shown to be transitory, with impedance returning to pre-stimulation levels several hours after cessation of stimulation. A loss of cells over the electrode surface was observed immediately after stimulation, suggesting that the level of stimulation applied was creating localized changes to cell adhesion. Similar changes in electrode impedance were observed for in vivo and in vitro work, thus helping to verify the in vitro model, although the underlying mechanisms may differ. A change in the porosity of the cellular layer was proposed to explain the alterations in electrode impedance in vitro. These in vitro studies provide insight into the possible mechanisms occurring at the electrode-tissue interface in association with electrical stimulation.
The success of high-density electrode arrays for use in neural prostheses depends on efficient impedance monitoring and fault detection. Conventional methods of impedance testing and fault detection are time consuming and not always suited for in vivo assessment of high-density electrode arrays. Additionally, the ability to evaluate impedances and faults such as open and short circuits, both in vitro and in vivo, are important to ensure safe and effective stimulation. In this work we describe an automated system for the rapid evaluation of high-density electrode arrays. The system uses a current pulse similar to that used to stimulate neural tissue and measures the voltage across the electrode in order to calculate the impedance. The switching of the system was validated by emulating a high-density electrode array using light-emitting diodes and a resistor-capacitor network. The system was tested in vitro and in vivo using a range of commercially available and in-house developed electrode arrays. The system accurately identified faults in an 84-electrode array in less than 20 s and reliably measured impedances up to 110 k? using a 200 µA, 250 µs per phase current pulse. This system has direct application for screening high-density electrode arrays in both clinical and experimental settings.
To determine the initial feasibility of using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to detect early atherosclerosis, we investigated inflammatory cells labeled with a positive contrast agent in an endothelial cell-based testing system. The human monocytic cell line THP-1 was labeled by overnight incubation with a gadolinium colloid (Gado CELLTrack) prior to determination of the in vitro release profile from T1-weighted MR images. Next, MR signals arising from both a synthetic model of THP-1/human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) accumulation and the dynamic adhesion of THP-1 cells to activated HUVECs under flow were obtained. THP-1 cells were found to be successfully--but not optimally--labeled with gadolinium colloid, and MR images demonstrated increased signal from labeled cells in both the synthetic and dynamic THP-1/HUVEC models. The observed THP-1 contrast release profile was rapid, suggesting the need for an agent that is optimized for retention in the target cells for use in further studies. Detection of labeled THP-1 cells was accomplished with no signal enhancement from unlabeled cells. These achievements demonstrate the feasibility of targeting early atherosclerosis with MR imaging, and suggest that using an in vitro system like the one described provides a rapid, efficient, and cost-effective way to support the development and evaluation of novel MR contrast agents.
Endothelial cells respond to fluid flow stimulation through transient and sustained signal pathway activation. Smad2 is a signaling molecule and transcription factor in the Smad signaling pathway, traditionally associated with TGF-?. Although phosphorylation of Smad2 in the receptor-dependent COOH-terminal region is the most appreciated way Smad2 is activated to affect gene expression, phosphorylation may also occur in the MH1-MH2 linker region (L-psmad2). Here, we show that in human aortic endothelial cells (HAEC), Smad2 was both preferentially phosphorylated in the linker region and localized to the nucleus in a flow-dependent manner. The Smad corepressor transforming growth interacting factor (TGIF) was also found to have flow-dependent nuclear localization. Tissue studies confirmed this L-psmad2 generation trend in rat aorta, indicating likely importance in arterial tissue. HAEC-based inhibitor studies demonstrated that L-psmad2 levels were not related to MAPK phosphorylation, but instead followed the pattern of pAkt(473), both with and without the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor PI-103. Akt and Smad species were also shown to directly interact under flow relative to static controls. To further evaluate impacts of PI-103 treatment, expression profiles for two TGF-? and shear stress-dependent genes were determined and showed that mRNAs were lower from untreated 10 dyn/cm(2) than 2 dyn/cm(2) average shear stress cultures. However, upon exposure to PI-103, this trend was reversed, with a stronger response observed at 10 dyn/cm(2). Taken together, the results of this work suggest that fluid flow exposure may influence endothelial gene expression by a novel mechanism involving Akt, L-psmad2, and TGIF.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an increasingly prevalent pathogen capable of causing severe vascular infections. The goal of this work was to investigate the role of shear stress in early adhesion events.
A cochlear implant can restore hearing function by electrically exciting spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) in the deaf cochlea. However, following deafness SGNs undergo progressive degeneration ultimately leading to their death. One significant cause of SGN degeneration is the loss of neurotrophic support that is normally provided by cells within the organ of Corti (OC). The administration of exogenous neurotrophins (NTs) can protect SGNs from degeneration but the effects are short-lived once the source of NTs has been exhausted. NT gene therapy, whereby cells within the cochlea are transfected with genes enabling them to produce NTs, is one strategy for providing a cellular source of NTs that may provide long-term support for SGNs. As the SGNs normally innervate sensory cells within the OC, targeting residual OC cells for gene therapy in the deaf cochlea may provide a source of NTs for SGN protection and targeted regrowth of their peripheral fibers. However, the continual degeneration of the OC over extended periods of deafness may deplete the cellular targets for NT gene therapy and hence limit the effectiveness of this method in preventing SGN loss. This study examined the effects of deafness duration on the efficacy of NT gene therapy in preventing SGN loss in guinea pigs that were systemically deafened with aminoglycosides. Adenoviral vectors containing green fluorescent protein (GFP) with or without genes for Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and Neurotrophin-3 (NT3) were injected into the scala media (SM) compartment of cochleae that had been deafened for one, four or eight weeks prior to the viral injection. The results showed that viral transfection of cells within the SM was still possible even after severe degeneration of the OC. Supporting cells (pillar and Deiters cells), cells within the stria vascularis, the spiral ligament, endosteal cells lining the scala compartments and interdental cells in the spiral limbus were transfected. However, the level of transfection was remarkably lower following longer durations of deafness. There was a significant increase in SGN survival in the entire basal turn for cochleae that received NT gene therapy compared to the untreated contralateral control cochleae for the one week deaf group. In the four week deaf group significant SGN survival was observed in the lower basal turn only. There was no increase in SGN survival for the eight week deaf group in any cochlear region. These findings indicated that the efficacy of NT gene therapy diminished with increasing durations of deafness leading to reduced benefits in terms of SGN protection. Clinically, there remains a window of opportunity in which NT gene therapy can provide ongoing trophic support for SGNs.
Cochlear implants electrically stimulate residual spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) to provide auditory cues for the severe-profoundly deaf. However, SGNs gradually degenerate following cochlear hair cell loss, leaving fewer neurons available for stimulation. Providing an exogenous supply of neurotrophins (NTs) has been shown to prevent SGN degeneration, and when combined with chronic intracochlear electrical stimulation (ES) following a short period of deafness (5 days), may also promote the formation of new neurons. The present study assessed the histopathological response of guinea pig cochleae treated with NTs (brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-3) with and without ES over a four week period, initiated two weeks after deafening. Results were compared to both NT alone and artificial perilymph (AP) treated animals. AP/ES treated animals exhibited no evidence of SGN rescue compared with untreated deafened controls. In contrast, NT administration showed a significant SGN rescue effect in the lower and middle cochlear turns (two-way ANOVA, p < 0.05) compared with AP-treated control animals. ES in combination with NT did not enhance SGN survival compared with NT alone. SGN function was assessed by measuring electrically-evoked auditory brainstem response (EABR) thresholds. EABR thresholds following NT treatment were significantly lower than animals treated with AP (two-way ANOVA, p = 0.033). Finally, the potential for induced neurogenesis following the combined treatment was investigated using a marker of DNA synthesis. However, no evidence of neurogenesis was observed in the SGN population. The results indicate that chronic NT delivery to the cochlea may be beneficial to cochlear implant patients by increasing the number of viable SGNs and decreasing activation thresholds compared to chronic ES alone.
Exogenous neurotrophin delivery to the deaf cochlea can prevent deafness-induced auditory neuron degeneration, however, we have previously reported that these survival effects are rapidly lost if the treatment stops. In addition, there are concerns that current experimental techniques are not safe enough to be used clinically. Therefore, for such treatments to be clinically transferable, methods of neurotrophin treatment that are safe, biocompatible and can support long-term auditory neuron survival are necessary. Cell transplantation and gene transfer, combined with encapsulation technologies, have the potential to address these issues. This study investigated the survival-promoting effects of encapsulated BDNF over-expressing Schwann cells on auditory neurons in the deaf guinea pig. In comparison to control (empty) capsules, there was significantly greater auditory neuron survival following the cell-based BDNF treatment. Concurrent use of a cochlear implant is expected to result in even greater auditory neuron survival, and provide a clinically relevant method to support auditory neuron survival that may lead to improved speech perception and language outcomes for cochlear implant patients.
As commercial approval of the first, purified, plant-based biopharmaceuticals for parenteral delivery to humans approaches, improved strategies for delivery of plant-made vaccines and therapeutics are required to ensure their further development and to fulfil the prospect of supplying a global solution for affordable medicines. To ensure that this occurs, research should investigate and characterise the host immune system in addition to the effects of adjuvants and carrier vehicles on consistency and efficacy of vaccination. In this review we explore the basic understandings of pharmaceutical delivery and its effect on immunogenicity in an effort to advance the plant-made pharmaceutical platform.
This study investigated the site of release of a model vaccine antigen from plant cells and the corresponding induced immune response. Three plant tissues (leaf, fruit and hairy root) and two formulations (aqueous and lipid) were compared in two mouse trials. A developed technique that enabled detection of antigen release by plant cells determined that antigen release occurred at early sites of the gastrointestinal tract when delivered in leaf material and at later sites when delivered in hairy roots. Lipid formulations delayed antigen release from all plant materials tested. While encapsulation in the plant cell provided some protection of the antigen in the gastrointestinal tract and influenced antigen release, formulation medium was also an important consideration with regard to vaccine delivery and immunogenicity. Systemic immune responses induced from the orally delivered vaccine benefited from late release of antigen in the mouse gastrointestinal tract. The influences to the mucosal immune response induced by these vaccines were too complex to be determined by studies performed here with no clear trend regarding plant tissue site of release or formulation medium. Expression and delivery of the model antigen in plant material prepared in an aqueous formulation provided the optimal systemic and mucosal, antigen-specific immune responses.
Experimental studies play an important role in establishing the safety and efficacy of cochlear implants and they continue to provide insight into a new generation of electrode arrays and stimulation strategies. One drawback has been the limited depth of insertion of an electrode array in experimental animals. We compared the insertion depth and trauma associated with the insertion of Cochlear Ltds Hybrid-L (HL) array with a standard 8 ring array in cat cochleae. Both arrays were inserted into cadaver cochleae and an X-ray recorded their anatomical location. The implanted cochlea was serially sectioned and photographed at 300 ?m intervals for evidence of electrode insertion trauma. Subsequently two cats were chronically implanted with HL arrays and electrically-evoked potentials recorded over a three month period. Mean insertion depth for the HL arrays was 334.8° (SD = 21°; n = 4) versus 175.5° (SD = 6°; n = 2) for the standard array. This relates to ?10.5 mm and 6 mm respectively. A similar insertion depth was measured in a chronically implanted animal with an HL array. Histology from each cadaver cochleae showed that the electrode array was always located in the scala tympani; there was no evidence of electrode insertion trauma to the basilar membrane, the osseous spiral lamina or the spiral ligament. Finally, evoked potential data from the chronically implanted animals exhibited significantly lower thresholds compared with animals implanted with a standard 8 ring array, with electrical thresholds remaining stable over a three-month observation period. Cochlear Ltds HL electrode array can be safely inserted ?50% of the length of the cat scala tympani, placing the tip of the array close to the 4 kHz place. This insertion depth is considerably greater than is routinely achieved using a standard 8-ring electrode array (?12 kHz place). The HL array evokes low thresholds that remain stable over three months of implantation. This electrode array has potential application in a broad area of cochlear implant related research.
Neural prostheses, such as cochlear and retinal implants, induce perceptual responses by electrically stimulating sensory nerves. These devices restore sensory system function by using patterned electrical stimuli to evoke neural responses. An understanding of their function requires knowledge of the nerves responses to relevant electrical stimuli as well as the likely effects of pathology on nerve function. We describe how sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) affects the response properties of single auditory nerve fibers (ANFs) to electrical stimuli relevant to cochlear implants. The response of 188 individual ANFs were recorded in response to trains of stimuli presented at 200, 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 pulse/s in acutely and chronically deafened guinea pigs. The effects of stimulation rate and SNHL on ANF responses during the 0-2 ms period following stimulus onset were examined to minimize the influence of ANF adaptation. As stimulation rate increased to 5,000 pulse/s, threshold decreased, dynamic range increased and first spike latency decreased. Similar effects of stimulation rate were observed following chronic SNHL, although onset threshold and first spike latency were reduced and onset dynamic range increased compared with acutely deafened animals. Facilitation, defined as an increased nerve excitability caused by subthreshold stimulation, was observed in both acute and chronic SNHL groups, although the magnitude of its effect was diminished in the latter. These results indicate that facilitation, demonstrated here using stimuli similar to those used in cochlear implants, influences the ANF response to pulsatile electrical stimulation and may have important implications for cochlear implant signal processing strategies.
This study was undertaken to assess the contribution of protein adsorption and cell growth to increases in electrode impedance that occur immediately following implantation of cochlear implant electrodes and other neural stimulation devices. An in vitro model of the electrode-tissue interface was used. Radiolabelled albumin in phosphate buffered saline was added to planar gold electrodes and electrode impedance measured using a charge-balanced biphasic current pulse. The polarization impedance component increased with protein adsorption, while no change to access resistance was observed. The maximum level of protein adsorbed was measured at 0.5 µg cm(-2), indicating a tightly packed monolayer of albumin molecules on the gold electrode and resin substrate. Three cell types were grown over the electrodes, macrophage cell line J774, dissociated fibroblasts and epithelial cell line MDCK, all of which created a significant increase in electrode impedance. As cell cover over electrodes increased, there was a corresponding increase in the initial rise in voltage, suggesting that cell cover mainly contributes to the access resistance of the electrodes. Only a small increase in the polarization component of impedance was seen with cell cover.
This review describes the current concept of pneumococcal meningitis in cochlear implant recipients based on recent laboratory studies. It examines possible routes of Streptococcus pneumoniae infection to the meninges in cochlear implant recipients. It also provides insights into fundamental questions concerning the pathophysiology of pneumococcal meningitis in implant recipients.
Several approaches have been proposed for placement of retinal prostheses: epiretinal, subretinal and suprachoroidal. We aimed to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of varying a range of stimulus parameters and electrode geometry for a suprachoroidal electrode array, using cortical evoked responses to monopolar electrical stimulation in cats. Our results indicate that charge thresholds were not dependent on electrode size, pulse widths or position of the return electrode tested, but were dependent on the number of sites stimulated in parallel. Further, we found that the combination of monopolar stimulation with large diameter electrodes, wide pulse widths and parallel stimulation minimized the voltage requirements for stimulation. These results provide useful insights for the design specifications of a low voltage suprachoroidal stimulator.
A cochlear implant may be used to electrically stimulate spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) in people with severe sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). However, these neurons progressively degenerate after SNHL due to loss of neurotrophins normally supplied by sensory hair cells (HCs). Experimentally, exogenous neurotrophin administration prevents SGN degeneration but can also result in abnormal resprouting of their peripheral fibers. This study aimed to create a target-derived neurotrophin source to increase neuron survival and redirect fiber resprouting following SNHL. Adenoviral (Ad) vectors expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) alone or in combination with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) or neurotrophin-3 (NT3) were injected into the cochlear scala tympani or scala media of guinea-pigs (GPs) deafened via aminoglycosides for 1 week. After 3 weeks, cochleae were examined for gene expression, neuron survival, and the projection of peripheral fibers in response to gene expression. Injection of vectors into the scala media resulted in more localized gene expression than scala tympani injection with gene expression consistently observed within the partially degenerated organ of Corti. There was also greater neuron survival and evidence of localized fiber responses to neurotrophin-expressing cells within the organ of Corti from scala media injections (P < 0.05), a first step in promoting organized resprouting of auditory peripheral fibers via gene therapy.
Bilateral cochlear implantation has recently been introduced with the aim of improving both speech perception in background noise and sound localization. Although evidence suggests that binaural perception is possible with two cochlear implants, results in humans are variable. To explore potential contributing factors to these variable outcomes, we have developed a behavioral animal model of bilateral cochlear implantation in a novel species, the ferret. Although ferrets are ideally suited to psychophysical and physiological assessments of binaural hearing, cochlear implantation has not been previously described in this species. This paper describes the techniques of deafening with aminoglycoside administration, surgical implantation of an intracochlear array and chronic intracochlear electrical stimulation with monitoring for electrode integrity and efficacy of stimulation. Experiments have been presented elsewhere to show that the model can be used to study behavioral and electrophysiological measures of binaural hearing in chronically implanted animals. This paper demonstrates that cochlear implantation and chronic intracochlear electrical stimulation are both safe and effective in ferrets, opening up the possibility of using this model to study potential protective effects of bilateral cochlear implantation on the developing central auditory pathway. Since ferrets can be used to assess psychophysical and physiological aspects of hearing along with the structure of the auditory pathway in the same animals, we anticipate that this model will help develop novel neuroprosthetic therapies for use in humans.
Release of neurotrophin-3 (NT3) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) from hair cells in the cochlea is essential for the survival of spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs). Loss of hair cells associated with a sensorineural hearing loss therefore results in degeneration of SGNs, potentially reducing the performance of a cochlear implant. Exogenous replacement of either or both neurotrophins protects SGNs from degeneration after deafness. We previously incorporated NT3 into the conducting polymer polypyrrole (Ppy) synthesized with para-toluene sulfonate (pTS) to investigate whether Ppy/pTS/NT3-coated cochlear implant electrodes could provide both neurotrophic support and electrical stimulation for SGNs. Enhanced and controlled release of NT3 was achieved when Ppy/pTS/NT3-coated electrodes were subjected to electrical stimulation. Here we describe the release dynamics and biological properties of Ppy/pTS with incorporated BDNF. Release studies demonstrated slow passive diffusion of BDNF from Ppy/pTS/BDNF, with electrical stimulation significantly enhancing BDNF release over 7 days. A 3-day SGN explant assay found that neurite outgrowth from explants was 12.3-fold greater when polymers contained BDNF (p < 0.001), although electrical stimulation did not increase neurite outgrowth further. The versatility of Ppy to store and release neurotrophins, conduct electrical charge, and act as a substrate for nerve-electrode interactions is discussed for specialized applications such as cochlear implants.
The success of modern neural prostheses is dependent on a complex interplay between the devices hardware and software and the dynamic environment in which the devices operate: the patients body or wetware. Over 120 000 severe/profoundly deaf individuals presently receive information enabling auditory awareness and speech perception from cochlear implants. The cochlear implant therefore provides a useful case study for a review of the complex interactions between hardware, software and wetware, and of the important role of the dynamic nature of wetware. In the case of neural prostheses, the most critical component of that wetware is the central nervous system. This paper will examine the evidence of changes in the central auditory system that contribute to changes in performance with a cochlear implant, and discuss how these changes relate to electrophysiological and functional imaging studies in humans. The relationship between the human data and evidence from animals of the remarkable capacity for plastic change of the central auditory system, even into adulthood, will then be examined. Finally, we will discuss the role of brain plasticity in neural prostheses in general.
The use of cochlear implants in patients with severe hearing losses but residual low-frequency hearing raises questions concerning the effects of chronic intracochlear electrical stimulation (ICES) on cortical responses to auditory and electrical stimuli. We investigated these questions by studying responses to tonal and electrical stimuli in primary auditory cortex (AI) of two groups of neonatally deafened cats with residual high-threshold, low-frequency hearing. One group were implanted with a multi-channel intracochlear electrode at 8 weeks of age, and received chronic ICES for up to 9 months before cortical recording. Cats in the other group were implanted immediately prior to cortical recording as adults. In all cats in both groups, multi-neuron responses throughout the rostro-caudal extent of AI had low characteristic frequencies (CFs), in the frequency range of the residual hearing, and high-thresholds. Threshold and minimum latency at CF did not differ between the groups, but in the chronic ICES animals there was a higher proportion of electrically but not acoustically excited recording sites. Electrical response thresholds were higher and latencies shorter in the chronically stimulated animals. Thus, chronic implantation and ICES affected the extent of AI that could be activated by acoustic stimuli and resulted in changes in electrical response characteristics.
The objective of this pictorial essay is to review uncommon abdominal hernias, many of which present to the Emergency Department with abdominal pain. These hernias may be congenital, post-traumatic, or iatrogenic in origin. They may present as an acute (surgical) abdomen without localizing signs or symptoms. They may present with an obvious antecedent event such as motor vehicle trauma or simply present as an incidental finding. Multi-detector computed tomography is currently the study of choice to diagnose abdominal hernia and to evaluate the possible complications such as small bowel obstruction and/or strangulation. This modality can delineate a "zone of transition" (abnormally dilated bowel transitioning to normal or decreased bowel caliber) or identify the involved anatomy. It can also suggest compromised blood supply.
Green fluorescent protein (GFP) has been used extensively to label cells in vitro and to track them following their transplantation in vivo. During our studies using the mouse embryonic stem cell line R1 B5-EGFP, we observed variable levels of fluorescence intensity of the GFP within these transfected cells. The variable fluorescence of this protein coupled with the innately autofluorescent nature of several structures within the cochlea collectively made the in vivo identification of these transplanted stem cells difficult. We have modified previously published protocols to enable the discrimination of an authentic GFP signal from autofluorescence in the adult guinea pig cochlea using fluorescence-based immunohistochemistry. The protocol described can also be used to label tissues of the cochlea using a chromogen, such as 3,3-diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride (DAB). Moreover, the described method gives excellent preservation of structural morphology making the tissues useful for both morphological and quantitative studies in combination with robust immunohistochemistry in the adult guinea pig cochlea.
Electrical stimulation of spiral ganglion neurons in a deafened cochlea, via a cochlear implant, provides a means of investigating the effects of the removal and subsequent restoration of afferent input on the functional organization of the primary auditory cortex (AI). We neonatally deafened 17 cats before the onset of hearing, thereby abolishing virtually all afferent input from the auditory periphery. In seven animals the auditory pathway was chronically reactivated with environmentally derived electrical stimuli presented via a multichannel intracochlear electrode array implanted at 8 weeks of age. Electrical stimulation was provided by a clinical cochlear implant that was used continuously for periods of up to 7 months. In 10 long-term deafened cats and three age-matched normal-hearing controls, an intracochlear electrode array was implanted immediately prior to cortical recording. We recorded from a total of 812 single unit and multiunit clusters in AI of all cats as adults using a combination of single tungsten and multichannel silicon electrode arrays. The absence of afferent activity in the long-term deafened animals had little effect on the basic response properties of AI neurons but resulted in complete loss of the normal cochleotopic organization of AI. This effect was almost completely reversed by chronic reactivation of the auditory pathway via the cochlear implant. We hypothesize that maintenance or reestablishment of a cochleotopically organized AI by activation of a restricted sector of the cochlea, as demonstrated in the present study, contributes to the remarkable clinical performance observed among human patients implanted at a young age.
Fluid dynamics strongly influences endothelial cell function, and participates in the localization of atherosclerotic plaques at blood vessel branches. We investigated the hypothesis that wild-type human aortic endothelial cells (HAEC) exposed to prolonged pulsatile flow stimulation have levels of phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) that are significantly greater than those observed in statically grown cultures. HAEC were exposed to pulsatile laminar shear stress in a parallel-plate flow chamber and analyzed for levels of phosphorylated ERK, JNK and p38 at 1, 10 and 20 h. While some MAPK exhibited alternating patterns of phosphorylation, others were characterized by steady increases or unchanged profiles until the terminal (20 h) time point. However, at 20 h, each MAPK demonstrated an increase in phosphorylation versus statically cultivated cells. Further, 20 h cultures from 10 dyn/cm(2) pulsatile shear stress had higher levels of phosphorylation for each MAPK than those from 2 dyn/cm(2). The finding that MAPK species can be phosphorylated in response to a prolonged pulsatile shear stress in both a time and magnitude dependent manner is an interesting result that may help to explain how the differential behaviors observed between cells from different flow environments can be generated and maintained.
Antigen-specific antibody responses against a model antigen (the B subunit of the heat labile toxin of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, LTB) were studied in sheep following oral immunisation with plant-made and delivered vaccines. Delivery from a root-based vehicle resulted in antigen-specific immune responses in mucosal secretions of the abomasum and small intestine and mesenteric lymph nodes. Immune responses from the corresponding leaf-based vaccine were more robust and included stimulation of antigen-specific antibodies in mucosal secretions of the abomasum. These findings suggest that oral delivery of a plant bioencapsulated antigen can survive passage through the rumen to elicit mucosal and systemic immune responses in sheep. Moreover, the plant tissue used as the vaccine delivery vehicle affects the magnitude of these responses.
The cochlear implant provides auditory cues to profoundly deaf patients by electrically stimulating the residual spiral ganglion neurons. These neurons, however, undergo progressive degeneration after hearing loss, marked initially by peripheral fibre retraction and ultimately culminating in cell death. This research aims to use gene therapy techniques to both hold and reverse this degeneration by providing a sustained and localised source of neurotrophins to the deafened cochlea. Adenoviral vectors containing green fluorescent protein, with or without neurotrophin-3 and brain derived neurotrophic factor, were injected into the lower basal turn of scala media of guinea pigs ototoxically deafened one week prior to intervention. This single injection resulted in localised and sustained gene expression, principally in the supporting cells within the organ of Corti. Guinea pigs treated with adenoviral neurotrophin-gene therapy had greater neuronal survival compared to contralateral non-treated cochleae when examined at 7 and 11 weeks post injection. Moreover; there was evidence of directed peripheral fibre regrowth towards cells expressing neurotrophin genes after both treatment periods. These data suggest that neurotrophin-gene therapy can provide sustained protection of spiral ganglion neurons and peripheral fibres after hearing loss.
Auditory neurons provide the critical link between a cochlear implant and the brain in deaf individuals, therefore their preservation and/or regeneration is important for optimal performance of this neural prosthesis. In cases where auditory neurons are significantly depleted, stem cells (SCs) may be used to replace the lost population of neurons, thereby re-establishing the critical link between the periphery (implant) and the brain. For such a therapy to be therapeutically viable, SCs must be differentiated into neurons, retained at their delivery site and damage caused to the residual auditory neurons minimized. Here we describe the transplantation of SC-derived neurons into the deaf cochlea, using a peptide hydrogel to limit their dispersal. The described approach illustrates that SCs can be delivered to and are retained within the basal turn of the cochlea, without a significant loss of endogenous auditory neurons. In addition, the tissue response elicited from this surgical approach was restricted to the surgical site and did not extend beyond the cochlear basal turn. Overall, this approach illustrates the feasibility of targeted cell delivery into the mammalian cochlea using hydrogel, which may be useful for future cell-based transplantation strategies, for combined treatment with a cochlear implant to restore function.
In the auditory system, a specialized subset of sensory neurons are responsible for correctly relaying precise pitch and temporal cues to the brain. In individuals with severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing impairment these sensory auditory neurons can be directly stimulated by a cochlear implant, which restores sound input to the brainstem after the loss of hair cells. This neural prosthesis therefore depends on a residual population of functional neurons in order to function effectively.
Soft robotic tentacles that move in three dimensions upon pressurization are fabricated by composing flexible elastomers with different tensile strengths using soft lithographic molding. These actuators are able to grip complex shapes and manipulate delicate objects. Embedding functional components into these actuators (for example, a needle for delivering fluid, a video camera, and a suction cup) extends their capabilities.
Synthetic systems cannot easily mimic the color-changing abilities of animals such as cephalopods. Soft machines--machines fabricated from soft polymers and flexible reinforcing sheets--are rapidly increasing in functionality. This manuscript describes simple microfluidic networks that can change the color, contrast, pattern, apparent shape, luminescence, and surface temperature of soft machines for camouflage and display. The color of these microfluidic networks can be changed simultaneously in the visible and infrared--a capability that organisms do not have. These strategies begin to imitate the functions, although not the anatomies, of color-changing animals.
This paper describes an empirical model of polymer dynamics, based on the agitation of millimeter-sized polymeric beads. Although the interactions between the particles in the macroscopic model and those between the monomers of molecular-scale polymers are fundamentally different, both systems follow the Worm-Like Chain theory.
Neurotrophin-BDNF can be effectively encapsulated in nanoporous poly(L-glutamic acid) particles prepared via mesoporous silica templating. The loaded BDNF can be released in a sustained manner with retained biological activity. Animal experiments demonstrate the released BDNF can efficiently rescue the auditory neurons (as indicated by the arrows) in the cochlea of guinea pigs with sensorineural hearing loss.
A clinically effective retinal prosthesis must evoke localized phosphenes in a retinotopic manner in response to stimulation of each of the retinal electrodes, evoke brightness cues over a wide dynamic range and function within safe stimulus limits. The effects of varying return configuration for retinal stimulation are currently unknown. To investigate this, we implanted a flexible, 7 × 12 electrode array into the suprachoroidal space of normally-sighted, anesthetized cats. Multi-unit activity in the primary visual cortex was recorded in response to electrical stimulation using various return configurations: monopolar vitreous (MPV), common ground (CG), hexagonal (HX), monopolar remote (MPR) and bipolar (BP_N). MPV stimulation was found to be the most charge efficient and was most likely to induce cortical activity within safe charge limits. HX and CG stimulation were found to exhibit greater retinal selectivity compared to the MPV return at the expense of lower cortical yield and higher P50 charge levels, while cortical selectivity was unaffected by choice of return. Responses using MPR and widely spaced BP_N configurations were similar to those using the MPV return. These results suggest that choice of return configuration for a retinal prosthesis will be balanced between resolution and stimulation within safe charge limits.
Current surgical techniques for retinal prosthetic implantation require long and complicated surgery, which can increase the risk of complications and adverse outcomes.
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