SU-8 2000 rendered cytocompatible for neuronal bioMEMS applications.

Research paper by Varadraj N VN Vernekar, D Kacy DK Cullen, Nick N Fogleman, Yoonsu Y Choi, Andrés J AJ García, Mark G MG Allen, Gregory J GJ Brewer, Michelle C MC LaPlaca

Indexed on: 24 Apr '08Published on: 24 Apr '08Published in: Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A


Microfabrication advances have resulted in small, cheap, and precise devices for biological microelectromechanical systems (bioMEMS). SU-8/SU-8 2000 is an attractive material for these applications because of its high-aspect ratio fabrication capability, dielectric properties, and thermochemical stability. Despite these advantages, the potential toxicity of SU-8 2000 may limit its use in cell-based applications. We show that <10% of primary neurons survived when cultured adjacent to or on top of untreated SU-8 2000. We evaluated the efficacy of various detoxification and surface treatments for SU-8 2000 in neuronal cultures after 7-21 days in vitro. Viability was improved to 45.8% +/- 4.5% (mean +/- standard error of the mean) following 3-day heat treatment (150 degrees C) under vacuum, while UV exposure and CO2 supercritical extraction did not improve survival. Furthermore, parylene coating (25 microm), in combination with heat and sonication (in isopropanol) treatments effectively masked the SU-8 2000 and led to 86.4% +/- 1.9% viability. Glow discharge (oxygen plasma) treatment rendered the SU-8 2000 surface more hydrophilic and improved neuronal viability, possibly through improved cell adhesion. No organic leachants were detected by mass spectrometry before or after heat treatment or after sonication. However, XPS analysis revealed the presence of potentially neurotoxic elements, fluorine and antimony. Strategies to improve the cytocompatibility of SU-8 2000 with primary neurons will allow longer culture times and have applications for cell-based microfabrication.