The difficulty in spinal cord regeneration is related to the inhibitory factors for axon growth and the lack of appropriate axon guidance in the lesion region. Here scaffolds are developed with aligned nanofibers for nerve guidance and drug delivery in the spinal cord. Blended polymers including poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) and poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLCA) are used to electrospin nanofibrous scaffolds with a two-layer structure: aligned nanofibers in the inner layer and random nanofibers in the outer layer. Rolipram, a small molecule that can enhance cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) activity in neurons and suppress inflammatory responses, is immobilized onto nanofibers. To test the therapeutic effects of nanofibrous scaffolds, the nanofibrous scaffolds loaded with rolipram are used to bridge the hemisection lesion in 8-week old athymic rats. The scaffolds with rolipram increase axon growth through the scaffolds and in the lesion, promote angiogenesis through the scaffold, and decrease the population of astrocytes and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans in the lesion. Locomotor scale rating analysis shows that the scaffolds with rolipram significantly improved hindlimb function after 3 weeks. This study demonstrates that nanofibrous scaffolds offer a valuable platform for drug delivery for spinal cord regeneration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials