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A novel GelMA-pHEMA hydrogel nerve guide for the treatment of peripheral nerve damages

Dursun Usal, Tugba, Yucel, Deniz, Hasirci, Vasif
International journal of biological macromolecules 2019 v.121 pp. 699-706
Schwann cells, anisotropy, axons, hydrogels, nerve tissue, polyhydroxyethyl methacrylates, porosity, strength (mechanics), tissue engineering, water content
Damage to the nervous system due to age, diseases or trauma may inhibit signal transfer along the nervous system. Nerve guides are used to treat these injuries by bridging the proximal and the distal end together. The design of the guide is very important for the reconnection of the severed axons. Methacrylated gelatin-poly(2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate) (GelMA-pHEMA) hydrogel was produced as the outer part of the nerve guide. pHEMA was added in various amounts into GelMA and increased the mechanical strength which is needed for the suturability of the guide. Porosity (15–70%), pore size (10–35 μm), water content (42–92%), and mechanical strength (65–710 kPa) of GelMA-pHEMA hydrogels were found to be suitable for nerve tissue engineering applications. Schwann cells attached and proliferated on GelMA, GelMA-pHEMA (5:5), and pHEMA hydrogels. Providing guidance is very important in the development of a nerve guide due to the anisotropic nature of the nerve tissue. Therefore, gelatin-poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) aligned fiber mats were used inside of the nerve guide. High degree of alignment with low deviation (7°) of this mats provided PC12 cell alignment throughout the fibers. Combination of GelMA-pHEMA (5:5) hydrogel and gelatin-PHBV aligned mat would provide an ideal nerve guide for the treatment of peripheral nerve damages.