Monday, 24 March 2014 10:43

Scaffolds from block polyurethanes based on poly(ɛ-caprolactone) (PCL) and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) for peripheral nerve regeneration

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Nerve guide scaffolds from block polyurethanes without any additional growth factors or protein were prepared using a particle leaching method. The scaffolds of block polyurethanes (abbreviated as PUCL-ran-EG) based on poly(ɛ-caprolactone) (PCL-diol) and poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) possess highly surface-area porous for cell attachment, and can provide biochemical and topographic cues to enhance tissue regeneration. The nerve guide scaffolds have pore size 1–5 μm and porosity 88%. Mechanical tests showed that the polyurethane nerve guide scaffolds have maximum loads of 4.98 ± 0.35 N and maximum stresses of 6.372 ± 0.5 MPa. The histocompatibility efficacy of these nerve guide scaffolds was tested in a rat model for peripheral nerve injury treatment. Four types of guides including PUCL-ran-EG scaffolds, autograft, PCL scaffolds and silicone tubes were compared in the rat model. After 14 weeks, bridging of a 10 mm defect gap by the regenerated nerve was observed in all rats. The nerve regeneration was systematically characterized by sciatic function index (SFI), histological assessment including HE staining, immunohistochemistry, ammonia silver staining, Masson's trichrome staining and TEM observation. Results revealed that polyurethane nerve guide scaffolds exhibit much better regeneration behavior than PCL, silicone tube groups and comparable to autograft. Electrophysiological recovery was also seen in 36%, 76%, and 87% of rats in the PCL, PUCL-ran-EG, and autograft groups respectively, whilst 29.8% was observed in the silicone tube groups. Biodegradation in vitro and in vivo show proper degradation of the PUCL-ran-EG nerve guide scaffolds. This study has demonstrated that without further modification, plain PUCL-ran-EG nerve guide scaffolds can help peripheral nerve regeneration excellently.

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