Alovskaya, A; Alekseeva, T; Phillips, JB; King, V and Brown, R
(2007). Fibronectin, Collagen, Fibrin - Components of Extracellular Matrix for Nerve Regeneration.
In: Ashammakhi, N.; Reis, R. L. and Chiellini, E. eds.
Topics in tissue engineering.
Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Group.
There are key differences in the extent to which the peripheral (PNS) and central (CNS) nervous
systems recover function following damage. In each case there is a balance between factors that
inhibit and promote neuronal regeneration. In the CNS this balance is skewed toward inhibition
while in the PNS it is skewed towards promotion of neuronal growth. Following damage the CNS
environment is generally hostile to neuronal growth. However, axonal regeneration does occur under
certain conditions. In this review, various strategies for promotion of neuronal growth are explored
including the use of tissue engineered grafts incorporating extracellular matrix proteins, synthetic
materials, electrically active materials, coupled with biomolecular and cellular – based strategies.
Development of biosynthetic conduits carrying extracellular matrix molecules and cells (Schwann
cells, olfactory ensheathing glia or stem cells) expressing neurotrophic growth factors represents a
novel and promising strategy for spinal cord and peripheral nerve repair. Native matrix scaffolds
(e.g. collagen, fibrin, fibronectin) have been produced with appropriate biomimetic 3D mesoscale
structures for improving nervous system repair. The structure, composition, biomechanical
properties and effectiveness of such implants in supporting experimental PNS and CNS repair are
reviewed and discussed in this chapter.
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