Bridges for treatment of the injured spinal cord must stabilize the injury site to prevent secondary damage and create a permissive environment that promotes regeneration. The host response to the bridge is central to creating a permissive environment, as the cell types that respond to the injury have the potential to secrete both stimulatory and inhibitory factors. We investigated multiple channel bridges for spinal cord regeneration and correlated the bridge structure to cell infiltration and axonal elongation. Poly(lactide-co-glycolide) bridges were fabricated by a gas foaming/particulate leaching process. Channels within the bridge had diameters of 150 or 250μm, and the main body of the bridge was highly porous with a controllable pore size. Upon implantation in a rat spinal cord hemisection site, cells infiltrated into the bridge pores and channels, with the pore size influencing the rate of infiltration. The pores had significant cell infiltration, including fibroblasts, macrophages, S-100β-positive cells, and endothelial cells. The channels of the bridge were completely infiltrated with cells, which had aligned axially, and consisted primarily of fibroblasts, S-100β-positive cells, and endothelial cells. Reactive astrocytes were observed primarily outside of the bridge, and staining for chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans was decreased in the region surrounding the bridge relative to studies without bridges. Neurofilament staining revealed a preferential growth of the neural fibers within the bridge channels relative to the pores. Multiple channel bridges capable of supporting cellular infiltration, creating a permissive environment, and directing the growth of neural fibers have potential for promoting and directing spinal cord regeneration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering