Biomaterials., Sep 2019

Engineering a platform for nerve regeneration with direct application to nerve repair technology.

Pawelec KM, Yoon C, Giger RJ, Sakamoto J


The development of effective treatment options for repair of peripheral nerves is complicated by lack of knowledge concerning the interactions between cells and implants. A promising device, the multichannel scaffold, incorporates microporous channels, aligning glia and directing axonal growth across a nerve gap. To enhance clinical outcomes of nerve repair, a platform, representative of current implant technology, was engineered which 1) recapitulated key device features (porosity and linearity) and 2) demonstrated remyelination of adult neurons. The in vitro platform began with the study of Schwann cells on porous polycaprolactone (PCL) and poly(lactide co-glycolide) (PLGA) substrates. Surface roughness determined glial cell attachment, and an additional layer of topography, 40 μm linear features, aligned Schwann cells and axons. In addition, direct co-culture of sensory neurons with Schwann cells significantly increased neurite outgrowth, compared to neurons cultured alone (naive or pre-conditioned). In contrast to the control substrate (glass), on porous PCL substrates, Schwann cells differentiated into a mature myelinating phenotype, expressing Oct-6, MPZ and MBP. The direct applicability of this platform to nerve implants, including its response to physiological cues, allows for optimization of cell-material interactions, close observation of the regeneration process, and the study of therapeutics, necessary to advance peripheral nerve repair technology.

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