Neural stem cell- and schwann cell-loaded biodegradable polymer scaffolds support axonal regeneration in the transected spinal cord

Heather E. Olson, Gemma E. Rooney, Louann Gross, Jarred J. Nesbitt, Katherine E. Galvin, Andrew Knight, Bingkun Chen, Michael J. Yaszemski, Anthony J. Windebank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

122 Scopus citations

Abstract

Biodegradable polymer scaffolds provide an excellent approach to quantifying critical factors necessary for restoration of function after a transection spinal cord injury. Neural stem cells (NSCs) and Schwann cells (SCs) support axonal regeneration. This study examines the compatibility of NSCs and SCs with the poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid polymer scaffold and quantitatively assesses their potential to promote regeneration after a spinal cord transection injury in rats. NSCs were cultured as neurospheres and characterized by immunostaining for nestin (NSCs), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) (astrocytes), βIII-tubulin (immature neurons), oligodendrocyte-4 (immature oligodendrocytes), and myelin oligodendrocyte (mature oligodendrocytes), while SCs were characterized by immunostaining for S-100. Rats with transection injuries received scaffold implants containing NSCs (n=17), SCs (n=17), and no cells (control) (n=8). The degree of axonal regeneration was determined by counting neurofilament-stained axons through the scaffold channels 1 month after transplantation. Serial sectioning through the scaffold channels in NSC- and SC-treated groups revealed the presence of nestin, neurofilament, S-100, and βIII tubulin-positive cells. GFAP-positive cells were only seen at the spinal cord-scaffold border. There were significantly more axons in the NSC- and SC- treated groups compared to the control group. In conclusion, biodegradable scaffolds with aligned columns seeded with NSCs or SCs facilitate regeneration across the transected spinal cord. Further, these multichannel biodegradable polymer scaffolds effectively serve as platforms for quantitative analysis of axonal regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1797-1805
Number of pages9
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Volume15
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering

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