Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Multifunctional Silk Nerve Guides for Axon Outgrowth
by Tupaj, Marie C., Ph.D., Tufts University, 2012, 172; 3495314
Abstract (Summary)

Peripheral nerve regeneration is a critical issue as 2.8% of trauma patients present with this type of injury, estimating a total of 200,000 nerve repair procedures yearly in the United States. While the peripheral nervous system exhibits slow regeneration, at a rate of 0.5 mm – 9 mm/day following trauma, this regenerative ability is only possible under certain conditions. Clinical repairs have changed slightly in the last 30 years and standard methods of treatment include suturing damaged nerve ends, allografting, and autografting, with the autograft the gold standard of these approaches. Unfortunately, the use of autografts requires a second surgery and there is a shortage of nerves available for grafting. Allografts are a second option however allografts have lower success rates and are accompanied by the need of immunosuppressant drugs. Recently there has been a focus on developing nerve guides as an "off the shelf" approach. Although some natural and synthetic guidance channels have been approved by the FDA, these nerve guides are unfunctionalized and repair only short gaps, less than 3 cm in length.

The goal of this project was to identify strategies for functionalizing peripheral nerve conduits for the outgrowth of neuron axons in vitro . To accomplish this, two strategies (bioelectrical and biophysical) were indentified for increasing axon outgrowth and promoting axon guidance. Bioelectrical strategies exploited electrical stimulation for increasing neurite outgrowth. Biophysical strategies tested a range of surface topographies for axon guidance. Novel methods were developed for integrating electrical and biophysical strategies into silk films in 2D. Finally, a functionalized nerve conduit system was developed that integrated all strategies for the purpose of attaching, elongating, and guiding nervous tissue in vitro. Future directions of this work include silk conduit translation into a rat sciatic nerve model in vivo for the purpose of repairing long (> 3 cm) peripheral nerve gaps.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kaplan, David L.
Commitee: Cronin-Golomb, Mark, Levin, Michael, Marra, Kacey G.
School: Tufts University
Department: Biomedical Engineering
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-B 73/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Biomedical engineering, Materials science
Keywords: Axon, Biomaterials, Electric fields, Patterning, Silk nerve
Publication Number: 3495314
ISBN: 978-1-267-18648-5
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