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Neurochem Int. 2009 Feb;54(2):73-83. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2008.11.002. Epub 2008 Nov 25.

The role of biodegradable engineered scaffolds seeded with Schwann cells for spinal cord regeneration.

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Physiology Department, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.


Spinal cord injury is very complicated, as there are factors in the body that inhibit its repair. Although regeneration of the mammalian central nervous system (CNS) was once thought to be impossible, studies over the past two decades have shown that axonal growth after spinal cord injury can occur when provided with the correct substratum. Traditionally, tissue transplantation or peripheral nerve grafting are used to repair damaged or diseased regions of the CNS, but donor shortage and immunological problems associated with infectious disease are often encountered. Fortunately, recent advances in neuroscience, cell culture, and biomaterials provide optimistic future using new treatments for nerve injuries. Biomaterial scaffold creates substrate within which cells are instructed to form a tissue or an organ in a highly controlled way. The principal function of a scaffold is to direct cell behavior such as migration, proliferation, differentiation, maintenance of phenotype, and apoptosis by facilitating sensing and responding to the environment via cell-matrix and cell-cell communications. Therefore, having such abilities provides scaffolds seeded with a special type of cell as an important part of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine which spinal cord regeneration is an example of. Nevertheless, the vast number of biodegradable synthetic and natural biopolymers makes choosing the right one very difficult. In this review article, it was tried to provide an inclusive survey of biopolymers seeded with Schwann cells (SCs) to be used for axonal regeneration in the nervous system.

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