Theranostics 2017; 7(18):4591-4604. doi:10.7150/thno.20169 This issue

Research Paper

Photoactive Poly(3-hexylthiophene) Nanoweb for Optoelectrical Stimulation to Enhance Neurogenesis of Human Stem Cells

Kisuk Yang1*, Jin Young Oh2*‡, Jong Seung Lee1, Yoonhee Jin1, Gyeong-Eon Chang1, Soo Sang Chae2#, Eunji Cheong1, Hong Koo Baik2✉, Seung-Woo Cho1,3✉

1. Department of Biotechnology, Yonsei University, Seoul 03722, Republic of Korea;
2. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Yonsei University, Seoul 03722, Republic of Korea;
3. Center for Nanomedicine, Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Seoul 03722, Republic of Korea.
Present address: Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, California 94305, USA.
#Present address: Division of Advanced Materials, Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT), Daejeon 34114, Republic of Korea.
*These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Yang K, Oh JY, Lee JS, Jin Y, Chang GE, Chae SS, Cheong E, Baik HK, Cho SW. Photoactive Poly(3-hexylthiophene) Nanoweb for Optoelectrical Stimulation to Enhance Neurogenesis of Human Stem Cells. Theranostics 2017; 7(18):4591-4604. doi:10.7150/thno.20169. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Optoelectrical manipulation has recently gained attention for cellular engineering; however, few material platforms can be used to efficiently regulate stem cell behaviors via optoelectrical stimulation. In this study, we developed nanoweb substrates composed of photoactive polymer poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) to enhance the neurogenesis of human fetal neural stem cells (hfNSCs) through photo-induced electrical stimulation.

Methods: The photoactive nanoweb substrates were fabricated by self-assembled one-dimensional (1D) P3HT nanostructures (nanofibrils and nanorods). The hfNSCs cultured on the P3HT nanoweb substrates were optically stimulated with a green light (539 nm) and then differentiation of hfNSCs on the substrates with light stimulation was examined. The utility of the nanoweb substrates for optogenetic application was tested with photo-responsive hfNSCs engineered by polymer nanoparticle-mediated transfection of an engineered chimeric opsin variant (C1V1)-encoding gene.

Results: The nanoweb substrates provided not only topographical stimulation for activating focal adhesion signaling of hfNSCs, but also generated optoelectrical stimulation via photochemical and charge-transfer reactions upon exposure to 539 nm wavelength light, leading to significantly enhanced neuronal differentiation of hfNSCs. The optoelectrically stimulated hfNSCs exhibited mature neuronal phenotypes with highly extended neurite formation and functional neuron-like electrophysiological features of sodium currents and action potentials. Optoelectrical stimulation with 539 nm light simultaneously activated both C1V1-modified hfNSCs and nanoweb substrates, which upregulated the expression and activation of voltage-gated ion channels in hfNSCs and further increased the effect of photoactive substrates on neuronal differentiation of hfNSCs.

Conclusion: The photoactive nanoweb substrates developed in this study may serve as platforms for producing stem cell therapeutics with enhanced neurogenesis and neuromodulation via optoelectrical control of stem cells.

Keywords: Photoactive nanoweb substrate, Human fetal neural stem cell, Optoelectrical stimulation, Topographical stimulation, Neurogenesis