A living replacement tissue for peripheral nerve that can enhance regeneration in vitro and in vivo

Georgiou, Melanie; Bunting, Stephen; Golding, Jon; Loughlin, Jane and Phillips, James (2012). A living replacement tissue for peripheral nerve that can enhance regeneration in vitro and in vivo. In: Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society - World Congress 2012, 5-8 Sep 2012, Vienna, Austria.

URL: http://www.wc2012-vienna.org/index.php?id=35


Introduction: A peripheral nerve repair device with the ability to enhance regeneration would be a promising alternative to nerve autograft repair. The growth of axons across a lesion is most effective when supported by columns of aligned Schwann cells that provide cell-level guidance, as found in an autograft. Here we report the development and testing of engineered neural tissue (ENT): aligned Schwann cells in a 3D collagen environment, which supports and guides neuronal growth.

Methods: Collagen gels containing F7 Schwann cells were tethered for 24 h to permit cellular self-alignment and then stabilised by rapid removal of interstitial fluid. This process generates sheets of ENT, which are stable tissue-like gels with cells organised within a 3D matrix. Cell alignment was monitored before and after stabilisation. Dissociated dorsal root ganglia neurons were cultured on the surface of the material for 3 days and neurite growth assessed. Sheets of ENT were rolled into columns and packed together to form the core of a repair device. Various column formats were tested in a rat sciatic nerve model.

Results: Chains of aligned Schwann cells formed within the collagen matrix and persisted following stabilisation to form a robust, aligned cellular biomaterial that promoted and guided neuronal growth in vitro and in vivo.

Conclusion: Engineered neural tissue containing aligned Schwann cells can form the basis of a functional conduit for peripheral nerve repair.

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