Transplantation of nanostructured composite scaffolds results in the regeneration of chronically injured spinal cords

Fabrizio Gelain, Silvia Panseri, Stefania Antonini, Carla Cunha, Matteo Donega, Joseph Lowery, Francesca Taraballi, Gabriella Cerri, Marcella Montagna, Fausto Baldissera, Angelo Vescovi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


The destruction and hollowing of entire tissue segments represent an insurmountable barrier to axonal regeneration and therapeutics in chronic spinal cord injury. To circumvent this problem, we engineered neural prosthetics, by assembling electrospun nanofibers and self-assembling peptides into composite guidance channels and transplanted them into the cysts of a postcontusive, chronic spinal cord injury rat model, also providing delivery of proregenerative cytokines. Six months later conspicuous cord reconstruction was observed. The cyst was replaced by newly formed tissue comprising neural and stromal cells. Nerve fibers were interspersed between and inside the guidance channels, spanning the lesion, amidst a well-developed vascular network, basal lamina, and myelin. This was accompanied by a significant improvement in the activity of ascending and descending motor pathways and the global locomotion score. Thus by engineering nanostructured matrices into neuroprosthetics, it is possible to recreate an anatomical, structural, and histological framework, which leads to the replacement of large, hollow tissue gaps in the chronically injured spinal cord, fostering axonal regeneration and neurological recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-36
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 25 2011


  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Female
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration
  • Lactic Acid
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Myelin Sheath
  • Nanocomposites
  • Nanofibers
  • Peptides
  • Peripheral Nerves
  • Polyglycolic Acid
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Recovery of Function
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Regeneration
  • Tissue Scaffolds
  • Transplantation
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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