Tissue engineering. Part A

Polymer scaffolds with preferential parallel grooves enhance nerve regeneration.

PMID 25435096


We have modified the surface topography of poly ɛ-caprolactone (PCL) and polylactic acid (PLA) blended films to improve cell proliferation and to guide the regeneration of peripheral nerves. Films with differing shaped grooves were made using patterned silicon templates, sloped walls (SL), V-shaped (V), and square-shaped (SQ), and compared with nongrooved surfaces with micropits. The solvent cast films were tested in vitro using adult adipose-derived stem cells differentiated to Schwann cell-like cells. Cell attachment, proliferation, and cell orientation were all improved on the grooved surfaces, with SL grooves giving the best results. We present in vivo data on Sprague-Dawley rat sciatic nerve injury with a 10-mm gap, evaluating nerve regeneration at 3 weeks across a polymer nerve conduit modified with intraluminal grooves (SL, V, and SQ) and differing wall thicknesses (70, 100, 120, and 210 μm). The SL-grooved nerve conduit showed a significant improvement over the other topographical-shaped grooves, while increasing the conduit wall thickness saw no positive effect on the biological response of the regenerating nerve. Furthermore, the preferred SL-grooved conduit (C) with 70 μm wall thickness was compared with the current clinical gold standard of autologous nerve graft (Ag) in the rat 10-mm sciatic nerve gap model. At 3 weeks postsurgery, all nerve gaps across both groups were bridged with regenerated nerve fibers. At 16 weeks, features of regenerated axons were comparable between the autograft (Ag) and conduit (C) groups. End organ assessments of muscle weight, electromyography, and skin reinnervation were also similar between the groups. The comparable experimental outcome between conduit and autograft, suggests that the PCL/PLA conduit with inner lumen microstructured grooves could be used as a potential alternative treatment for peripheral nerve repair.