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Biomaterials. 2013 Mar;34(9):2213-20. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.12.002. Epub 2013 Jan 2.

Channel density and porosity of degradable bridging scaffolds on axon growth after spinal injury.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.


Bridges implanted into the injured spinal cord function to stabilize the injury, while also supporting and directing axon growth. The architecture of the bridge is critical to its function, with pores to support cell infiltration that integrates the implant with the host and channels to direct axon elongation. Here, we developed a sucrose fiber template to create poly(lactide-co-glycolide) multiple channel bridges for implantation into a lateral hemisection that had a 3-fold increase in channel number relative to previous bridges and an overall porosity ranging from approximately 70%-90%. Following implantation into rat and mouse models, axons were observed within channels for all conditions. The axon density within the bridge increased nearly 7-fold relative to previous bridges with fewer channels. Furthermore, increasing the bridge porosity substantially increased the number of axons, which correlated with the extent of cell infiltration throughout the bridge. Analysis of these cell types identified an increased presence of mature oligodendrocytes within the bridge at higher porosities. These results demonstrate that channels and bridge porosity influence the re-growth of axons through the injury. These bridges provide a platform technology capable of being combined with the delivery of regenerative factors for the ultimate goal of achieving functional recovery.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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