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Biomaterials. 2007 Dec;28(36):5526-35. Epub 2007 Sep 19.

Development and evaluation of silk fibroin-based nerve grafts used for peripheral nerve regeneration.

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Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Neuroregeneration, Nantong University, 19 Qixiu Road, Nantong, PR China.


Silk fibroin (SF), derived from natural silk long used as a textile material, has recently become an important biomaterial for tissue engineering applications. We have previously reported on good in vitro biocompatibility of SF fibers with peripheral nerve tissues and cells. In the present study, we developed a novel biomimetic design of the SF-based nerve graft (SF graft) which was composed of a SF-nerve guidance conduit (NGC) inserted with oriented SF filaments. The SF-NGC prepared via well-established procedures exhibits an eggshell-like microstructure that is responsible for its superior mechanical and permeable properties beneficial to nerve regeneration. The SF graft was used for bridge implantation across a 10-mm long sciatic nerve defect in rats, and the outcome of peripheral nerve repair at 6 months post-implantation was evaluated by a combination of electrophysiological assessment, FluoroGold retrograde tracing and histological investigation. The examined functional and morphological parameters show that SF grafts could promote peripheral nerve regeneration with effects approaching those elicited by nerve autografts which are generally considered as the gold standard for treating large peripheral nerve defects, thus raising a potential possibility of using these newly developed nerve grafts as a promising alternative to nerve autografts.

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