Focal release of neurotrophic factors by biodegradable microspheres enhance motor and sensory axonal regeneration in vitro and in vivo
Neurotrophic factors (NTFs) promote nerve regeneration and neuronal survival after peripheral nerve injury. However, drawbacks related with administration and bioactivity during long periods limit their therapeutic application. In this study, PLGA microspheres (MPs) were used to locally release different NTFs and evaluate whether they accelerate axonal regeneration in comparison with free NTFs or controls. ELISA, SEM, UV/visible light microscopy, organotypic cultures of DRG explants and spinal cord slices were used to characterize MP properties and the bioactivity of the released NTFs. Results of organotypic cultures showed that encapsulated NTFs maintain longer bioactivity and enhance neurite regeneration of both sensory and motor neurons compared with free NTFs. For in vivo assays, the rat sciatic nerve was transected and repaired with a silicone tube filled with collagen gel or collagen mixed with PBS encapsulated MPs (control groups) and with free or encapsulated NGF, BDNF, GDNF or FGF-2. After 20 days, a retrotracer was applied to the regenerated nerve to quantify motor and sensory axonal regeneration. NTF encapsulation in MPs improved regeneration of both motor and sensory axons, as evidenced by increased numbers of retrolabeled neurons. Hence, our results show that slow release of NTFs with PLGA MP enhance nerve regeneration. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.