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Biomaterials. 2001 May;22(10):1125-36.

Axonal regeneration into Schwann cell grafts within resorbable poly(alpha-hydroxyacid) guidance channels in the adult rat spinal cord.

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  • 1The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, School of Medicine, University of Miami, FL 33136, USA.


Axonal growth and myelination in a SC graft contained in a resorbable tubular scaffold made of poly(D,L-lactic acid) (PLA50) or high molecular weight poly(L-lactic acid) mixed with 10% poly(L-lactic acid) oligomers (PLA(100/10)) were studied for up to 4 months after implantation in the completely transected adult rat thoracic spinal cord. The PLA50 tubes collapsed soon after implantation and, consequently, compressed the graft inside, leading to only occasional thin cables with SCs and a low number of myelinated axons: 17 +/- 6 at 1 and 158 +/- 11 at 2 months post-grafting. The cable contained 32 +/- 23 blood vessels at 2 weeks, 55 +/- 33 at 1 month and 46 +/- 30 at 2 months after implantation. PLA(100/10) tubes, on the other hand, were found to break up into large pieces, which compressed and sometimes protruded into the tissue cable inside. At all time points studied, however, cables contained SCs and were well vascularized with 414 +/- 47 blood vessels at 2 weeks, 437 +/- 139 at 1, 609 +/- 134 at 2 and 396 +/- 95 at 4 months post-grafting. The number of myelinated axons was 712 +/- 509 at 1 month, 1819 +/- 837 at 2 months and 609 +/- 132 at 4 months post implantation. These results demonstrated that fiber growth and myelination into a SC graft contained in a resorbable PLA(100/10) tube increases over the first 2 months post-implantation but decreases thereafter. Changes in geometry of both types of polymer tubes were detrimental to axonal regeneration. Future research should explore the use of polymers that better retain the appropriate mechanical, geometrical and permeability properties over time.

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