Differences between the effect of anisotropic and isotropic laminin and nerve growth factor presenting scaffolds on nerve regeneration across long peripheral nerve gaps.
Anisotropic scaffolds of agarose hydrogels containing gradients of laminin-1 (LN-1) and nerve growth factor (NGF) molecules were used to promote sciatic nerve regeneration across a challenging 20mm nerve gap in rats. Step and continuous gradient anisotropic scaffolds were fabricated and characterized, and regeneration was compared to that in isotropic scaffolds with uniform concentrations of LN-1 and NGF and sciatic nerve grafts harvested from syngenic rats. Polysulfone tubular guidance channels were used to present the agarose-based scaffolds to the nerve stumps. Four months after implantation, regenerating axons were observed in animals implanted with anisotropic scaffolds with gradients of both LN-1 and NGF molecules and nerve grafts, but not in animals with isotropic scaffold implants. Also, the scaffolds with gradients of either LN-1 or NGF, with the other component being uniformly distributed in the scaffold, did not elicit axonal regeneration. The total number of myelinated axons was similar for the anisotropic scaffold and the nerve graft conditions, with the anisotropic scaffolds having a higher density of axons than the nerve grafts. Axonal diameter distribution was similar for the anisotropic scaffolds and the nerve grafts. The nerve grafts and anisotropic scaffolds resulted in better functional outcome compared to isotropic scaffolds as measured by the relative gastrocnemius muscle weight (RGMW). Additionally the state of neuromuscular junctions as assessed by pre- and post-synaptic staining revealed that both the anisotropic scaffolds performed as well as nerve grafts.
Dodla, MC; Bellamkonda, RV
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