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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2007 Mar 15;80(4):932-7.

Hydrogel nerve conduits produced from alginate/chitosan complexes.

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  • 1Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ETH Zurich, Wolfgang-Pauli Strasse 10, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


Nerve conduits (NCs) represent a promising alternative to conventional treatments for peripheral nerve repair. Materials for NC production should be biodegradable, possess adequate mechanical properties, and allow for exchange of nutrients. To this aim, we developed biodegradable NC made of a hydrogel that consisted of the oppositely charged polysaccharides alginate and chitosan. Swelling and permeation studies, as well as rheological measurements, served to characterize the NC. The alginate/chitosan NC showed high water uptake (84% w/w) and permitted permeation of fluorescent-labeled dextrans in a molecular weight dependent manner. The NC fulfilled the mechanical specifications without further crosslinking. The soft NC can be expected to preclude nerve compression (storage modulus of about 40 kPa), but possess sufficient mechanical strength. In combination with remarkable tear resistance, the NC affords easy surgical handling.

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