Background: Recently, carbon fibers have been utilized to develop a depth-type microelectrode array for chronic neural recording. Since the diameter of carbon fibers is smaller than the conventional electrodes made of metal wires or microfabricated silicon, the carbon fiber electrodes showed an improved capability for chronic neural recording with less tissue damages. However, the carbon fiber based microelectrodes have a limitation of short insertion depth due to a low stiffness. Methods: We proposed a carbon fiber based microelectrode array embedded with a mechanical support structure to facilitate the penetration into the deeper brain. The support is made of biodegradable silk fibroin to reduce the reactive tissue responses. The 4-channel carbon fiber based microelectrode arrays were fabricated and accessed in terms of electrochemical impedance, recording capability for 1-month implantation in rat hippocampi. The electrodes with tungsten supports were fabricated and tested as a control group. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed to identify the reactive glial responses. Results: The carbon fiber based electrode arrays with silk supports showed about 2-fold impedance increase 2 weeks after implantation while the number of active electrodes decreased simultaneously. However, after 1 month, the electrode impedance decreased back to its initial value and the percentage of active electrodes also increased above 70%. Immunohistochemical staining clearly showed that the electrodes with silk supports induced less reactive glial responses than that with tungsten supports. Conclusion: The proposed carbon fiber based microelectrode array is expected to be used for long-term in vivo neural recording from deep brain regions with the minimized reactive tissue response.
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