Hydrogenated Graphene Improves Neuronal Network Maturation and Excitatory Transmission

Matteo Moschetta, Jong Young Lee, João Rodrigues, Alice Podestà, Omar Varvicchio, Jangyup Son, Yangjin Lee, Kwanpyo Kim, Gwan Hyoung Lee, Fabio Benfenati, Mattia Bramini, Andrea Capasso

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Graphene is regarded as a viable bio-interface for neuroscience due to its biocompatibility and electrical conductivity, which would contribute to efficient neuronal network signaling. Here, monolayer graphene grown via chemical vapor deposition is treated with remote hydrogen plasma to demonstrate that hydrogenated graphene (HGr) fosters improved cell-to-cell communication with respect to pristine graphene in primary cortical neurons. When transferred to polyethylene terephthalate, HGr exhibits higher wettability than graphene (water contact angle of 83.7° vs 40.7°), while preserving electrical conductivity (≈3 kΩ □-1). A rich and mature network is observed to develop onto HGr. The intrinsic excitability and firing properties of neurons plated onto HGr appears unaltered, while the basic passive and active membrane properties are fully preserved. The formation of excitatory synaptic connections increases in HGr with respect to pristine graphene, leading to a doubled miniature excitatory postsynaptic current frequency. This study supports the use of hydrogenation for tailoring graphene into an improved neuronal interface, indicating that wettability, more than electrical conductivity, is the key parameter to be controlled. The use of HGr can bring about a deeper understanding of neuronal behavior on artificial bio-interfaces and provide new insight for graphene-based biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000177
JournalAdvanced Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A. Mehilli, D. Moruzzo, R. Ciancio, and I. Dallorto are gratefully acknowledged for primary cell culture preparations, as well as for technical and administrative support. This work was supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement Grant Agreement No. 785219—Graphene Flagship—Core2 and Ministero degli Affari Esteri e Cooperazione Internazionale of Italy (Farnesina – MAECI) (Grant No. EPNZ0082). M.B. acknowledges supports from the EU Graphene Flagship‐Core2 (Grant Agreement No. 785219) and the MSCA‐COFUND Athenea3i scheme under the Grant Agreement No. 754446. J.S. acknowledges the support of the grant by the KIST Institution Programs (2Z06030, 2K02420). Y.L. and K.K. acknowledge support from the Institute for Basic Science (IBS‐R026‐D1). G.H.L. acknowledges supports from Basic Science Research Program and the International Research & Development Program through the NRF of Korea (2016M3A7B4910940, 2019K1A3A1A25000267) and Creative‐Pioneering Researchers Program through Seoul National University (SNU). A.C. acknowledges the support of the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska–Curie grant agreement No. 713640.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Medicine(all)


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