Development of Engineered Neural Tissue Containing Elongated Neurons For Peripheral Nerve Regeneration
Following peripheral nerve injury, the motor axons in the distal nerve between the injury site and the muscle degenerate. Recovery of function following proximal injuries is a clinical challenge since neuronal regeneration rate is limited, resulting in muscle atrophy due to the delay, even where the ‘gold standard’ autograft is used to bridge a long gap. Much research focuses on improving repair conduits that mimic the autograft and promote host neurite regeneration, whereas here we propose to improve long gap repair by populating constructs with neurons. With a ready-to-implant construct populated with glial cells supporting neurons with elongated neurites, the gap between proximal stump and muscle could potentially be reconnected promptly once the challenge on integration of nerve system are overcome. Immediate innervation of the muscle would help reduce atrophy as regeneration progresses. The overall aim here therefore is to prepare a construct containing neurons with elongated neurites with a view to rapid bridging of a nerve injury site and restoration of innervation to muscle. In an attempt to induce longer neurite growth, mechanical tension was applied using a 3D-printed mould developed in order to stretch cellular gels in a controlled manner.
Funding: The Royal Thai Government Scholarship offered by National Science and Technology Development Agency, Ministry of Science and Technology, Thailand