Biomaterials for revascularization and immunomodulation after spinal cord injury.
Haggerty AE, Maldonado-Lasunción I, Oudega M.
Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes immediate damage to the nervous tissue accompanied by loss of motor and sensory function. The limited self-repair competence of injured nervous tissue underscores the need for reparative interventions to recover function after SCI. The vasculature of the spinal cord plays a crucial role in SCI and repair. Ruptured and sheared blood vessels in the injury epicenter and blood vessels with a breached blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) in the surrounding tissue cause bleeding and inflammation, which contribute to the overall tissue damage. The insufficient formation of new functional vasculature in and near the injury impedes endogenous tissue repair and limits the prospect of repair approaches. Limiting the loss of blood vessels, stabilizing the BSCB, and promoting the formation of new blood vessels are therapeutic targets for spinal cord repair. Inflammation is an integral part of injury-mediated vascular damage, which has deleterious and reparative consequences. Inflammation and the formation of new blood vessels are intricately interwoven. Biomaterials can be effectively used for promoting and guiding blood vessel formation or modulating the inflammatory response after SCI, thereby governing the extent of damage and the success of reparative interventions. This review deals with the vasculature after SCI, the reciprocal interactions between inflammation and blood vessel formation, and the potential of biomaterials to support revascularization and immunomodulation in damaged spinal cord nervous tissue.