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Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 30;6:32184. doi: 10.1038/srep32184.

3D-engineering of Cellularized Conduits for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration.

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State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, and Collaborative Innovation Center for Biotherapy, Chengdu, Sichuan province, China.
Department of Neurosurgery, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan province, China.
State key laboratory for manufacturing systems engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, 710049,China.
Department of NanoEngineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084. China.


Tissue engineered conduits have great promise for bridging peripheral nerve defects by providing physical guiding and biological cues. A flexible method for integrating support cells into a conduit with desired architectures is wanted. Here, a 3D-printing technology is adopted to prepare a bio-conduit with designer structures for peripheral nerve regeneration. This bio-conduit is consisted of a cryopolymerized gelatin methacryloyl (cryoGelMA) gel cellularized with adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs). By modeling using 3D-printed "lock and key" moulds, the cryoGelMA gel is structured into conduits with different geometries, such as the designed multichannel or bifurcating and the personalized structures. The cryoGelMA conduit is degradable and could be completely degraded in 2-4 months in vivo. The cryoGelMA scaffold supports the attachment, proliferation and survival of the seeded ASCs, and up-regulates the expression of their neurotrophic factors mRNA in vitro. After implanted in a rat model, the bio-conduit is capable of supporting the re-innervation across a 10 mm sciatic nerve gap, with results close to that of the autografts in terms of functional and histological assessments. The study describes an indirect 3D-printing technology for fabricating cellularized designer conduits for peripheral nerve regeneration, and could lead to the development of future nerve bio-conduits for clinical use.

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