Plastic Surgery Research Council
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PSRC 60th Annual Meeting

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Peripheral Nerve Repair Using A Novel Peptide Amphiphile Nanofibers: In Vitro And In Vivo Studies
Akishige Hokugo, DDS PhD, Andrew Li, MD, Anisa Yalom, MD, Luis A. Segovia, MD, Reza Jarrahy, MD.
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

PURPOSE:
Traumatic peripheral nerve injuries can result in lifelong disability. Primary nerve repair is used for short nerve defects. Autologous nerve can be used in longer defects but creates donor site morbidity. Nerve conduits lack an aligned internal scaffold to support and guide axonal regeneration. Peptide amphiphiles (PA) can self-assemble into aligned nanofibers and promote peripheral nerve regeneration in vivo. There are no studies to date that examine the ability of PA nanofibers to support the regeneration of injured nerves that supply the musculoskeletal system. In this preliminary study, we investigate the viability of rat Schwann cells after incorporation into PA gels.
METHODS:
PA nanofibers were synthesized. PAs were aqueously dissolved, and rat Schwann cells (cell line RT4-D6P2T) were incorporated into the PA solution. The PA/cell suspension was then pipetted in aliquots into salt solution containing CaCl2, immediately forming a solid gel. Gelling solution was then replaced with Dulbecco's Modified Eagle's Medium (DMEM) with 10% fetal bovine serum, and changed every 3 days. Control collagen gels with incorporated Schwann cells were made at the same density. Cell proliferation assay was performed. To evaluate of peripheral nerve regeneration, PLGA conduit filled with PA gels were grafted in the critical sciatic nerve gap of rat. Control empty PLGA conduit or autologous nerve were also grafted in the nerve gap. Motor and sensory function tests were performed to evaluate the peripheral nerve regeneration.
RESULTS:
Schwann cells demonstrated significantly increasing proliferation after embedding in PA gels from days 1-11. Control collagen gel and cell culture also demonstrated increasing growth from day 1 to day 11. Motor and sensory functions were improved by the PLGA conduit filled with PA gels similar to autologous nerve graft.
CONCLUSION:
Schwann cells embedded in PA gels exhibit increasing proliferation within PA gel. PA gels were supported peripheral nerve regeneration in vivo. These findings support the idea that PA gel constructs are an effective candidate for an internal scaffold in nerve conduits.


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