Anisotropic scaffolds facilitate enhanced neurite extension in vitro.
Tissue engineering (TE) techniques to enhance nerve regeneration following nerve damage have had limited success in matching the performance of autografts across short nerve gaps (< 10 mm). For regeneration over longer nerve gaps, TE techniques have been less successful than autografts. Most engineered scaffolds do not present directional cues to the regenerating nerves. In our efforts to design a TE scaffold to replace the autograft, we hypothesize that anisotropic hydrogel scaffolds with gradients of a growth-promoting glycoprotein, laminin-1 (LN-1), may promote directional neurite extension and enhance regeneration. In this study we report the engineering of three-dimensional (3D) agarose scaffolds with photoimmobilized gradients of LN-1 of differing slopes. Dorsal root ganglia (DRG) from chicken embryos were cultured in the agarose scaffolds and their neurite extension rate was determined. DRG neurite extension rates were significantly higher in the anisotropic scaffolds, with a maximal growth rate in an anisotropic scaffold twice that of the maximal growth rate in isotropic scaffolds of LN-1. We suggest that these anisotropic scaffolds, presenting an optimal gradient of LN-1, may significantly impact nerve regeneration. Such anisotropic scaffolds may represent a new generation of tissue engineered materials with built-in directional cues for guided tissue or nerve regeneration.
Dodla, MC; Bellamkonda, RV
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