During nervous system development, the extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a pivotal role offering anchorage points to maturing neurons and neurites, as well as a permissive environment for tissue formation. Thus enhancement of cell adhesion is often an important criterion when designing biomaterials for neural tissue engineering. In addition to functionalizing biomaterials with ECM-derived cell adhesive molecules, there is emerging evidence that indicates the surface topography, stiffness, and electrical properties play an important role in neuron adhesion and neurite outgrowth. We describe recent developments in biomaterials modification for simulating the microenvironment in order to promote neuron adhesion and growth, as well as to encourage nerve regeneration after injury or disease.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(08)70088-9