Intravenous immune-modifying nanoparticles as a therapy for spinal cord injury in mice

Su Ji Jeong, John G. Cooper, Igal Ifergan, Tammy L. McGuire, Dan Xu, Zoe Hunter, Sripadh Sharma, Derrick McCarthy, Stephen D. Miller*, John A. Kessler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Intravenously infused synthetic 500 nm nanoparticles composed of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) are taken up by blood-borne inflammatory monocytes via a macrophage scavenger receptor (macrophage receptor with collagenous structure), and the monocytes no longer traffic to sites of inflammation. Intravenous administration of the nanoparticles after experimental spinal cord injury in mice safely and selectively limited infiltration of hematogenous monocytes into the injury site. The nanoparticles did not bind to resident microglia, and did not change the number of microglia in the injured spinal cord. Nanoparticle administration reduced M1 macrophage polarization and microglia activation, reduced levels of inflammatory cytokines, and markedly reduced fibrotic scar formation without altering glial scarring. These findings thus implicate early-infiltrating hematogenous monocytes as highly selective contributors to fibrosis that do not play an indispensable role in gliosis after SCI. Further, the nanoparticle treatment reduced accumulation of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, increased axon density inside and caudal to the lesion site, and significantly improved functional recovery after both moderate and severe injuries to the spinal cord. These data provide further evidence that hematogenous monocytes contribute to inflammatory damage and fibrotic scar formation after spinal cord injury in mice. Further, since the nanoparticles are simple to administer intravenously, immunologically inert, stable at room temperature, composed of an FDA-approved material, and have no known toxicity, these findings suggest that the nanoparticles potentially offer a practical treatment for human spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-82
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Fibrosis
  • Gliosis
  • Macrophage
  • Monocyte
  • Nanotechnology
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology

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