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Lu, Jiaju; Sun, Xun; Yin, Heyong; Shen, Xuezhen; Yang, Shuhui; Wang, Yu; Jiang, Wenli; Sun, Yue; Zhao, Lingyun; Sun, Xiaodan; Lu, Shibi; Mikos, Antonios G.; Peng, Jiang and Wang, Xiumei (2018): A neurotrophic peptide-functionalized self-assembling peptide nanofiber hydrogel enhances rat sciatic nerve regeneration. In: Nano Research, Vol. 11, No. 9: pp. 4599-4613

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Nerve guidance conduit (NGC) is a potential alternative to autologous nerve for peripheral nerve regeneration. A promising therapeutic strategy is to modify the nerve guidance conduit intraluminal microenvironment using physical and/or chemical guidance cues. In this study, a neurotrophic peptide-functionalized self-assembling peptide nanofiber hydrogel that could promote PC12 cell adhesion, proliferation, and neuronal differentiation in vitro was prefilled in the lumen of a hollow chitosan tube (hCST) to accelerate axonal regeneration in a rat sciatic nerve defect model. The functionalized self-assembling peptide was developed by introducing a neurotrophic peptide (RGI, RGIDKRHWNSQ) derived from brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) to the C-terminus of the self-assembling peptide RADA16-I (Ac-(RADA)(4)-CONH2). Morphological, histological, electrophysiological, and functional analyses demonstrated that the RGI-functionalized, self-assembling, peptide nanofiber hydrogel RAD/RGI could produce a neurotrophic microenvironment that markedly improved axonal regeneration with enhanced re-myelination and motor functional recovery.

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