A new nerve guide conduit material composed of a biodegradable poly(phosphoester).
There is a resurgence of interest in the development of degradable and biocompatible polymers for fabrication of nerve guide conduits (NGCs) in recent years. Poly(phosphoester) (PPE) polymers are among the attractive candidates in this context, in view of their high biocompatibility, adjustable biodegradability, flexibility in coupling fragile biomolecules under physiological conditions and a wide variety of physicochemical properties. The feasibility of using a biodegradable PPE, P(BHET-EOP/TC), as a novel NGC material was investigated. Two types of conduits were fabricated by using two batches of P(BHET-EOP/TC) with different weight-average molecular weights (Mw) and polydispersity indexes (PI). The polymers as well as conduits were non-toxic to all six types of cells tested, including primary neurones and neuronally differentiated PC12 cells. After in situ implantation in the sciatic nerve of the rat, two types of conduits triggered a similar tissue response, inducing the formation of a thin tissue capsule composed of approximately eight layers of fibroblasts surrounding the conduits at 3 months. Biological performances of the conduits were examined in the rat sciatic nerve model with a 10 mm gap. Although tube fragmentation, even tube breakage, was observed within less than 5 days post-implantation, successful regeneration through the gap occurred in both types of conduits, with four out of 10 in the Type I conduits (Mw 14,900 and PI 2.57) and 11 out of 12 in the Type II conduits (Mw 18,900 and PI 1.72). The degradation of conduits was further evidenced by increased roughness on the tube surface in vivo under scanning electron microscope and a mass decrease in a time-dependent manner in vitro. The Mw of the polymers dropped 33 and 24% in the Type I and II conduits, respectively, in vitro within 3 months. Among their advantages over other biodegradable NGCs, the PPE conduits showed negligible swelling and no crystallisation after implantation. Thus, these PPE conduits can be effective aids for nerve regeneration with potential to be further developed into more sophisticated NGCs that have better control of the conduit micro-environment for improved nerve regeneration.
Wang, S; Wan, AC; Xu, X; Gao, S; Mao, HQ; Leong, KW; Yu, H
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