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1.  Comparison of polymer scaffolds in rat spinal cord: A step toward quantitative assessment of combinatorial approaches to spinal cord repair 
Biomaterials  2011;32(32):8077-8086.
The transected rat thoracic (T9/10) spinal cord model is a platform for quantitatively compa0ring biodegradable polymer scaffolds. Schwann cell-loaded scaffolds constructed from poly (lactic co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) (PCLF), oligo(polyethylene glycol) fumarate (OPF) hydrogel or positively charged OPF (OPF+) hydrogel were implanted into the model. We demonstrated that the mechanical properties (3-point bending and stiffness) of OPF and OPF+ hydrogels closely resembled rat spinal cord. After one month, tissues were harvested and analyzed by morphometry of neurofilament-stained sections at rostral, midlevel, and caudal scaffold. All polymers supported axonal growth. Significantly higher numbers of axons were found in PCLF (P < 0.01) and OPF+ (P < 0.05) groups, compared to that of the PLGA group. OPF+ polymers showed more centrally distributed axonal regeneration within the channels while other polymers (PLGA, PCLF and OPF) tended to show more evenly dispersed axons within the channels. The centralized distribution was associated with significantly more axons regenerating (P < 0.05). Volume of scar and cyst rostral and caudal to the implanted scaffold was measured and compared. There were significantly smaller cyst volumes in PLGA compared to PCLF groups. The model provides a quantitative basis for assessing individual and combined tissue engineering strategies.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.07.029
PMCID: PMC3163757  PMID: 21803415
OPF; PLGA; PCLF; axon regeneration; spinal cord injury; Schwann cell
2.  Sustained Delivery of Dibutyryl Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate to the Transected Spinal Cord Via Oligo [(Polyethylene Glycol) Fumarate] Hydrogels 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2011;17(9-10):1287-1302.
This study describes the use of oligo [(polyethylene glycol) fumarate] (OPF) hydrogel scaffolds as vehicles for sustained delivery of dibutyryl cyclic adenosine monophosphate (dbcAMP) to the transected spinal cord. dbcAMP was encapsulated in poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microspheres, which were embedded within the scaffolds architecture. Functionality of the released dbcAMP was assessed using neurite outgrowth assays in PC12 cells and by delivery to the transected spinal cord within OPF seven channel scaffolds, which had been loaded with Schwann cells or mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Our results showed that encapsulation of dbcAMP in microspheres lead to prolonged release and continued functionality in vitro. These microspheres were then successfully incorporated into OPF scaffolds and implanted in the transected thoracic spinal cord. Sustained delivery of dbcAMP inhibited axonal regeneration in the presence of Schwann cells but rescued MSC-induced inhibition of axonal regeneration. dbcAMP was also shown to reduce capillary formation in the presence of MSCs, which was coupled with significant functional improvements. Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating PLGA microsphere technology for spinal cord transection studies. It represents a novel sustained delivery mechanism within the transected spinal cord and provides a platform for potential delivery of other therapeutic agents.
doi:10.1089/ten.tea.2010.0396
PMCID: PMC3079174  PMID: 21198413
3.  In vitro and In vivo Release of Nerve Growth Factor from Biodegradable Poly-Lactic-Co-Glycolic-Acid Microspheres 
Regeneration of peripheral nerves after injury is suboptimal. We now report the long term delivery of nerve growth factor (NGF) by biodegradable poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) microspheres in vitro and in vivo. Lactic to glycolic acid ratios of 50:50 and 85:15 were fabricated using the double emulsion solvent, evaporation technique. Three different inherent viscosities (0.1dL/g: 1A, 0.4dL/g: 4A, 0.7dL/g: 7A) were analyzed. In vitro, release of NGF for 23 days was measured. Electron microscopy demonstrated intact spheres for at least 7 days (50:50 1A), 14 days (50:50 4A) or 35 days (50:50 7A and 85:15 7A). In vitro release kinetics were characterized by burst release, followed by release of NGF at a rate of 0.6%-1.6% a day. Release curves for 50:50 1A and 85:15 7A differed significantly from other compositions (p<0.01). In vivo, release was characterized by a novel radionuclide tracking assay. Release rates varied from 0.9%-2.2% per day with linear kinetics. All but the 85:15 type of spheres showed different release profiles in vivo compared to in vitro conditions. Based on the surface morphology and release profiles we found microspheres fabricated from 50:50 4A PLGA to be best suited for the use in a rat sciatic nerve injury model.
doi:10.1002/jbm.a.32900
PMCID: PMC2989534  PMID: 20878933
Nerve Growth Factor; Microspheres; Peripheral Nerve; Poly-lactic-co-glycolic-acid; Dorsal root ganglia
4.  The Development of Electrically Conductive Polycaprolactone Fumarate-Polypyrrole Composite Materials for Nerve Regeneration 
Biomaterials  2010;31(23):5916-5926.
Electrically conductive polymer composites composed of polycaprolactone fumarate and polypyrrole (PCLF-PPy) have been developed for nerve regeneration applications. Here we report the synthesis and characterization of PCLF-PPy and in vitro studies showing PCLF-PPy materials support both PC12 cell and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurite extension. PCLF-PPy composite materials were synthesized by polymerizing pyrrole in pre-formed PCLF scaffolds (Mn 7,000 or 18,000 g mol−1) resulting in interpenetrating networks of PCLF-PPy. Chemical compositions and thermal properties were characterized by ATR-FTIR, XPS, DSC, and TGA. PCLF-PPy materials were synthesized with five different anions (naphthalene-2-sulfonic acid sodium salt (NSA), dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid sodium salt (DBSA), dioctyl sulfosuccinate sodium salt (DOSS), potassium iodide (I), and lysine) to investigate effects on electrical conductivity and to optimize chemical composition for cellular compatibility. PCLF-PPy materials have variable electrical conductivity up to 6 mS cm−1 with bulk compositions ranging from 5 to 13.5 percent polypyrrole. AFM and SEM characterization show microstructures with a root mean squared (RMS) roughness of 1195 nm and nanostructures with RMS roughness of 8 nm. In vitro studies using PC12 cells and DRG show PCLF-PPy materials synthesized with NSA or DBSA support cell attachment, proliferation, neurite extension, and are promising materials for future studies involving electrical stimulation.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.04.012
PMCID: PMC2893281  PMID: 20483452
Electrically Conductive; Polypyrrole; Nerve; PCLF
5.  Axon Regeneration through Scaffold into Distal Spinal Cord after Transection 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2009;26(10):1759-1771.
Abstract
We employed Fast Blue (FB) axonal tracing to determine the origin of regenerating axons after thoracic spinal cord transection injury in rats. Schwann cell (SC)-loaded, biodegradable, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) scaffolds were implanted after transection. Scaffolds loaded with solubilized basement membrane preparation (without SCs) were used for negative controls, and nontransected cords were positive controls. One or 2 months after injury and scaffold implantation, FB was injected 0–15 mm caudal or about 5 mm rostral to the scaffold. One week later, tissue was harvested and the scaffold and cord sectioned longitudinally (30 μm) on a cryostat. Trans-scaffold labeling of neuron cell bodies was identified with confocal microscopy in all cell-transplanted groups. Large (30–50 μm diameter) neuron cell bodies were predominantly labeled in the ventral horn region. Most labeled neurons were seen 1–10 mm rostral to the scaffold, although some neurons were also labeled in the cervical cord. Axonal growth occurred bidirectionally after cord transection, and axons regenerated up to 14 mm beyond the PLGA scaffolds and into distal cord. The extent of FB labeling was negatively correlated with distance from the injection site to the scaffold. Electron microscopy showed myelinated axons in the transverse sections of the implanted scaffold 2 months after implantation. The pattern of myelination, with extracellular collagen and basal lamina, was characteristic of SC myelination. Our results show that FB labeling is an effective way to measure the origin of regenerating axons.
doi:10.1089/neu.2008.0610
PMCID: PMC2763055  PMID: 19413501
axonal tracing; biodegradable polymers; Fast Blue; Schwann cells; spinal cord injury
6.  Stimulation of neurite outgrowth using positively charged hydrogels 
Biomaterials  2009;30(23-24):3874-3881.
Autologous nerve grafts are currently the best option for the treatment of segmental peripheral nerve defects. However, autografts have several drawbacks including size mismatch and loss of sensation in the donor nerve’s sensory distribution. In this work, we have investigated the development of a synthetic hydrogel that contains positive charge for use as a substrate for nerve cell attachment and neurite outgrowth in culture. We have demonstrated that modification of oligo-(polyethylene glycol) fumarate (OPF) with a positively charged monomer improves primary sensory rat neuron attachment and differentiation in a dose-dependent manner. Positively charged hydrogels also supported attachment of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) explants that contain sensory neurons, Schwann cells and neuronal support cells. Furthermore, charged hydrogels were analyzed for the appearance of myelinated structures in a co-culture containing DRG neurons and Schwann cells. DRGs and Schwann cells remained viable on charged hydrogels for a time period of three weeks and neurites extended from the DRGs. Sudan black staining revealed that neurites emerging from DRGs were accompanied by migrating Schwann cells. These findings suggest that charged OPF hydrogels are capable of sustaining both primary nerve cells and the neural support cells that are critical for regeneration.
doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.04.018
PMCID: PMC2716054  PMID: 19427689
hydrogel; nerve regeneration; Schwann cells; scaffold
7.  Photo-Crosslinked Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate) Networks for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration: Physical Properties and Preliminary Biological Evaluations 
Acta biomaterialia  2009;5(5):1531-1542.
In an effort of achieving suitable biomaterials for peripheral nerve regeneration, we present a material design strategy of combining a crystallite-based physical network and a crosslink-based chemical network. Biodegradable polymer disks and conduits have been fabricated by photo-crosslinking three poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate)s (PCLF530, PCLF1250, and PCLF2000), which were synthesized from the precursor poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) diols with nominal molecular weights of 530, 1250, and 2000 g.mol−1, respectively. Thermal properties such as glass transition temperature (Tg), melting temperature (Tm), and crystallinity of photo-crosslinked PCLFs were examined and correlated with their rheological and mechanical properties. Furthermore, in vitro degradation of uncrosslinked and crosslinked PCLFs in PBS crosslinked PCLFs in 1 N NaOH aqueous solution at 37 °C was studied. In vitro cytocompatibility, attachment, and proliferation of Schwann cell precursor line SPL201 cells on three PCLF networks were investigated. Crosslinked PCLF2000 with the highest crystallinity and mechanical properties was found to best support cell attachment and proliferation. Using a new photo-crosslinking method, single-lumen crosslinked PCLF nerve conduits without defects were fabricated in a glass mold. Crosslinked PCLF2000 nerve conduits were selected for evaluation in a 1-cm gap rat sciatic nerve model. Histological evaluation demonstrated that the material was biocompatible with sufficient strength to hold sutures in place after 6 and 17 weeks of implantation. Nerve cable with myelinated axons was found in the crosslinked PCLF2000 nerve conduit.
doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2008.12.015
PMCID: PMC2869216  PMID: 19171506
Poly(ε-caprolactone fumarate); Photo-crosslinking; Peripheral nerve regeneration; Cell responses
8.  Axon Regeneration through Scaffold into Distal Spinal Cord after Transection 
Journal of neurotrauma  2009;26(10):1759-1771.
We employed Fast Blue (FB) axonal tracing to determine the origin of regenerating axons after thoracic spinal cord transection injury in rats. Schwann cell (SC)-loaded, biodegradable, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) scaffolds were implanted after transection. Scaffolds loaded with solubilized basement membrane preparation (without SCs) were used for negative controls, and nontransected cords were positive controls. One or 2 months after injury and scaffold implantation, FB was injected 0–15 mm caudal or about 5 mm rostral to the scaffold. One week later, tissue was harvested and the scaffold and cord sectioned longitudinally (30 μm) on a cryostat. Trans-scaffold labeling of neuron cell bodies was identified with confocal microscopy in all cell-transplanted groups. Large (30–50 μm diameter) neuron cell bodies were predominantly labeled in the ventral horn region. Most labeled neurons were seen 1–10 mm rostral to the scaffold, although some neurons were also labeled in the cervical cord. Axonal growth occurred bidirectionally after cord transection, and axons regenerated up to 14 mm beyond the PLGA scaffolds and into distal cord. The extent of FB labeling was negatively correlated with distance from the injection site to the scaffold. Electron microscopy showed myelinated axons in the transverse sections of the implanted scaffold 2 months after implantation. The pattern of myelination, with extracellular collagen and basal lamina, was characteristic of SC myelination. Our results show that FB labeling is an effective way to measure the origin of regenerating axons.
doi:10.1089/neu.2008-0610
PMCID: PMC2763055  PMID: 19413501
axonal tracing; biodegradable polymers; Fast Blue; Schwann cells; spinal cord injury

Results 1-8 (8)