An NT-3-releasing bioscaffold supports the formation of TrkC-modified neural stem cell-derived neural network tissue with efficacy in repairing spinal cord injury.
ABSTRACT: The mechanism underlying neurogenesis during embryonic spinal cord development involves a specific ligand/receptor interaction, which may be help guide neuroengineering to boost stem cell-based neural regeneration for the structural and functional repair of spinal cord injury. Herein, we hypothesized that supplying spinal cord defects with an exogenous neural network in the NT-3/fibroin-coated gelatin sponge (NF-GS) scaffold might improve tissue repair efficacy. To test this, we engineered tropomyosin receptor kinase C (TrkC)-modified neural stem cell (NSC)-derived neural network tissue with robust viability within an NF-GS scaffold. When NSCs were genetically modified to overexpress TrkC, the NT-3 receptor, a functional neuronal population dominated the neural network tissue. The pro-regenerative niche allowed the long-term survival and phenotypic maintenance of the donor neural network tissue for up to 8 weeks in the injured spinal cord. Additionally, host nerve fibers regenerated into the graft, making synaptic connections with the donor neurons. Accordingly, motor function recovery was significantly improved in rats with spinal cord injury (SCI) that received TrkC-modified NSC-derived neural network tissue transplantation. Together, the results suggested that transplantation of the neural network tissue formed in the 3D bioactive scaffold may represent a valuable approach to study and develop therapies for SCI.
Project description:<h4>Aims</h4>This study was aimed to investigate whether electroacupuncture (EA) would increase the secretion of neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) from injured spinal cord tissue, and, if so, whether the increased NT-3 would promote the survival, differentiation, and migration of grafted tyrosine kinase C (TrkC)-modified mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-derived neural network cells. We next sought to determine if the latter would integrate with the host spinal cord neural circuit to improve the neurological function of injured spinal cord.<h4>Methods</h4>After NT-3-modified Schwann cells (SCs) and TrkC-modified MSCs were co-cultured in a gelatin sponge scaffold for 14 days, the MSCs differentiated into neuron-like cells that formed a MSC-derived neural network (MN) implant. On this basis, we combined the MN implantation with EA in a rat model of spinal cord injury (SCI) and performed immunohistochemical staining, neural tracing, electrophysiology, and behavioral testing after 8 weeks.<h4>Results</h4>Electroacupuncture application enhanced the production of endogenous NT-3 in damaged spinal cord tissues. The increase in local NT-3 production promoted the survival, migration, and maintenance of the grafted MN, which expressed NT-3 high-affinity TrkC. The combination of MN implantation and EA application improved cortical motor-evoked potential relay and facilitated the locomotor performance of the paralyzed hindlimb compared with those of controls. These results suggest that the MN was better integrated into the host spinal cord neural network after EA treatment compared with control treatment.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Electroacupuncture as an adjuvant therapy for TrkC-modified MSC-derived MN, acted by increasing the local production of NT-3, which accelerated neural network reconstruction and restoration of spinal cord function following SCI.
Project description:Tissue engineering produces constructs with defined functions for the targeted treatment of damaged tissue. A complete spinal cord injury (SCI) model is generated in canines to test whether in vitro constructed neural network (NN) tissues can relay the excitatory signal across the lesion gap to the caudal spinal cord. Established protocols are used to construct neural stem cell (NSC)-derived NN tissue characterized by a predominantly neuronal population with robust trans-synaptic activities and myelination. The NN tissue is implanted into the gap immediately following complete transection SCI of canines at the T10 spinal cord segment. The data show significant motor recovery of paralyzed pelvic limbs, as evaluated by Olby scoring and cortical motor evoked potential (CMEP) detection. The NN tissue survives in the lesion area with neuronal phenotype maintenance, improves descending and ascending nerve fiber regeneration, and synaptic integration with host neural circuits that allow it to serve as a neuronal relay to transmit excitatory electrical signal across the injured area to the caudal spinal cord. These results suggest that tissue-engineered NN grafts can relay the excitatory signal in the completely transected canine spinal cord, providing a promising strategy for SCI treatment in large animals, including humans.
Project description:The hostile environment of an injured spinal cord makes it challenging to achieve higher viability in a grafted tissue-engineered neural network used to reconstruct the spinal cord circuit. Here, we investigate whether cell survival and synaptic transmission within an NT-3 and TRKC gene-overexpressing neural stem cell-derived neural network scaffold (NN) transplanted into transected spinal cord could be promoted by electroacupuncture (EA) through improving the microenvironment. Our results showed that EA facilitated the cell survival, neuronal differentiation, and synapse formation of a transplanted NN. Pseudorabies virus tracing demonstrated that EA strengthened synaptic integration of the transplanted NN with the host neural circuit. The combination therapy also promoted axonal regeneration, spinal conductivity, and functional recovery. The findings highlight EA as a potential and safe supplementary therapeutic strategy to reinforce the survival and synaptogenesis of a transplanted NN as a neuronal relay to bridge the two severed ends of an injured spinal cord.
Project description:To investigate the role of tyrosine kinase receptor C (TrkC), the receptor of neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), in neuroplasticity following spinal cord injury (SCI).Rats with cord transection were allowed to survive for 1, 3, 7 and 14 d post operation (dpo). TrkC expressions at lower thoracic levels of the spinal cord and in precentral gyrus of cerebral cortex were investigated.TrkC protein levels at both the site of injury (T10-T11) and the neighboring segments (T9 and T12) in the spinal cord decreased significantly at 1-7 dpo, followed by a rapid increase at 14 dpo. The temporal changes in TrkC mRNA expression level showed a similar pattern with that of TrkC protein. In addition, the levels of TrkC protein and mRNA at the site of injury (T10-T11) were significantly higher than those at the neighboring spinal segments (T9 and T12). Besides, the levels of TrkC protein and mRNA were higher at the rostral segment than at the caudal segment. However, in the motor cortex, TrkC protein was not detected and TrkC mRNA was expressed at a very low level.These results suggest that TrkC may be involved in neuroplasticity after SCI.
Project description:Traditional therapeutic strategies for spinal cord injury (SCI) are insufficient to repair locomotor function because of the failure of axonal reconnection and neuronal regeneration in the injured central nervous system (CNS). Neural stem cell (NSC) transplantation has been considered a potential strategy and is generally feasible for repairing the neural circuit after SCI; however, the most formidable problem is that the neuronal differentiation rate of NSCs is quite limited. Therefore, it is essential to induce the neuronal differentiation of NSCs and improve the differentiation rate of NSCs in spinal cord repair. Our results demonstrate that both Wnt5a and miRNA200b-3p could promote NSC differentiation into neurons and that Wnt5a upregulated miRNA200b-3p expression through MAPK/JNK signaling to promote NSC differentiation into neurons. Wnt5a could reduce RhoA expression by upregulating miRNA200b-3p expression to inhibit activation of the RhoA/Rock signaling pathway, which has been reported to suppress neuronal differentiation. Overexpression of RhoA abolished the neurogenic capacity of Wnt5a and miRNA200b-3p. In vivo, miRNA200b-3p was critical for Wnt5a-induced NSC differentiation into neurons to promote motor functional and histological recovery after SCI by suppressing RhoA/Rock signaling. These findings provide more insight into SCI and help with the identification of novel treatment strategies.
Project description:To better direct repair following spinal cord injury (SCI), we designed an implant modeled after the intact spinal cord consisting of a multicomponent polymer scaffold seeded with neural stem cells. Implantation of the scaffold-neural stem cells unit into an adult rat hemisection model of SCI promoted long-term improvement in function (persistent for 1 year in some animals) relative to a lesion-control group. At 70 days postinjury, animals implanted with scaffold-plus-cells exhibited coordinated, weight-bearing hindlimb stepping. Histology and immunocytochemical analysis suggested that this recovery might be attributable partly to a reduction in tissue loss from secondary injury processes as well as in diminished glial scarring. Tract tracing demonstrated corticospinal tract fibers passing through the injury epicenter to the caudal cord, a phenomenon not present in untreated groups. Together with evidence of enhanced local GAP-43 expression not seen in controls, these findings suggest a possible regeneration component. These results may suggest a new approach to SCI and, more broadly, may serve as a prototype for multidisciplinary strategies against complex neurological problems.
Project description:To repair neural circuitry following spinal cord injury (SCI), neural stem cell (NSC) transplantation has held a primary focus; however, stochastic outcomes generate challenges driven in part by NSC differentiation and tumor formation. The recent ability to generate regionally specific neurons and their support cells now allows consideration of directed therapeutic approaches with pre-differentiated and networked spinal neural cells. Here, we form encapsulated, transplantable neuronal networks of regionally matched cervical spinal motor neurons, interneurons, and oligodendrocyte progenitor cells derived through trunk-biased neuromesodermal progenitors. We direct neurite formation in alginate-based neural ribbons to generate electrically active, synaptically connected networks, characterized by electrophysiology and calcium imaging before transplantation into rodent models of contused SCI for evaluation at 10-day and 6-week timepoints. The <i>in vivo</i> analyses demonstrate viability and retention of interconnected synaptic networks that readily integrate with the host parenchyma to advance goals of transplantable neural circuitry for SCI treatment.
Project description:Strategies using neural stem cells (NSCs) to aid regeneration following spinal cord injury (SCI) show much promise, but challenges remain regarding implementation and efficacy. In this work, we explored the use of an NSC-seeded scaffold consisting of covalently immobilized interferon-<i>γ</i> and rat NSCs within a hydrogel matrix (methacrylamide chitosan). We placed the scaffolds within the subcutaneous environment of rats, allowing them to incubate for 4 weeks in order to prime them for regeneration prior to being transplanted into a right lateral hemisection SCI model in the same animal. We found that subcutaneous priming reduced the lineage commitment of encapsulated NSCs, as observed by increased nestin expression and decreased NeuN expression. When combined with intracellular <i>σ</i> peptide administration (which reduces inhibition from the glial scar), subcutaneous maturation improved functional outcomes, which were assessed by BBB score and quantitative gait parameters (fore and hind limb duty factor imbalance, right and left paw placement accuracy). Although we did not observe any direct reconnection of the transplanted cells with the host tissue, we did observe neurofilament fibers extending from the host tissue into the scaffold. Importantly, the mechanism for improved functional outcomes is likely an increase in trophic support from subcutaneously maturing the scaffold, which is enhanced by the administration of ISP.
Project description:Spinal cord injury (SCI) can lead to severe motor, sensory and social impairments having a huge impact on patients' lives. The complex and time-dependent SCI pathophysiology has been hampering the development of novel and effective therapies. Current treatment options include surgical interventions, to stabilize and decompress the spinal cord, and rehabilitative care, without providing a cure for these patients. Novel therapies have been developed targeting different stages during trauma. Among them, cell-based therapies hold great potential for tissue regeneration after injury. Neural stem cells (NSCs), which are multipotent cells with inherent differentiation capabilities committed to the neuronal lineage, are especially relevant to promote and reestablish the damaged neuronal spinal tracts. Several studies demonstrate the regenerative effects of NSCs in SCI after transplantation by providing neurotrophic support and restoring synaptic connectivity. Therefore, human clinical trials have already been launched to assess safety in SCI patients. Here, we review NSC-based experimental studies in a SCI context and how are they currently being translated into human clinical trials.
Project description:Spinal cord injuries (SCI) often lead to persistent neurological dysfunction due to failure in axon regeneration. Unfortunately, currently established treatments, such as direct drug administration, do not effectively treat SCI due to rapid drug clearance from our bodies. Here, we introduce a three-dimensional aligned nanofibers-hydrogel scaffold as a bio-functionalized platform to provide sustained non-viral delivery of proteins and nucleic acid therapeutics (small non-coding RNAs), along with synergistic contact guidance for nerve injury treatment. A hemi-incision model at cervical level 5 in the rat spinal cord was chosen to evaluate the efficacy of this scaffold design. Specifically, aligned axon regeneration was observed as early as one week post-injury. In addition, no excessive inflammatory response and scar tissue formation was triggered. Taken together, our results demonstrate the potential of our scaffold for neural tissue engineering applications.