In vitro and in vivo studies of electroactive reduced graphene oxide-modified nanofiber scaffolds for peripheral nerve regeneration.


Department of Orthopaedics, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Affiliated Sixth People's Hospital, Shanghai, China. Electronic address: [Email]


Graphene, as a promising biomaterial, has received great attention in biomedical fields due to its intriguing properties, especially the conductivity and biocompatibility. Given limited studies on the effects of graphene-based scaffolds on peripheral nerve regeneration in vitro and in vivo under electrical stimulation (ES), the present study was intended to systematically investigate how conductive graphene-based nanofibrous scaffolds regulate Schwann cell (SC) behavior including migration, proliferation and myelination, and PC12 cell differentiation in vitro via ES, and whether these conductive scaffolds could guide SC migration and promote nerve regeneration in vivo. Briefly, the reduced graphene oxide (RGO) was coated onto ApF/PLCL nanofibrous scaffolds via in situ redox reaction of the graphene oxide (GO). In vitro, RGO-coated ApF/PLCL (AP/RGO) scaffolds significantly enhanced SC migration, proliferation, and myelination including myelin-specific gene expression and neurotrophic factor secretion. The conditioned media of SCs cultured on AP/RGO scaffolds under ES could induce the differentiation of PC12 cells in a separate culture. In addition, PC12 cells cultured on the conductive AP/RGO scaffolds also showed elevated differentiation upon ES. In vivo implantation of the conductive AP/RGO nerve guidance conduits into rat sciatic nerve defects exhibited a similar healing capacity to autograft, which is the current gold standard in peripheral nerve regeneration. In view of the performance of AP/RGO scaffolds in modulating cell functions in vitro and promoting nerve regeneration in vivo, it is expected that the graphene-based conductive nanofibrous scaffolds would exhibit their potential in peripheral nerve repair and regeneration. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Despite the demonstrated capability of bridging the distal and proximal peripheral nerves, it remains a significant challenge with current artificial nerve conduits to achieve the desired physiological functions, e.g., the transmission of electrical stimuli. Herein, we explored the possibility of combining the conductive properties of graphene with electrospun nanofiber to create the electroactive biomimetic scaffolds for nerve tissue regeneration. In vitro and in vivo studies were carried out: (1) In vitro, the conductive nanofibrous scaffolds significantly promoted SC migration, proliferation and myelination including myelin specific gene expression and neurotrophicfactor secretion, and induced PC12 cell differentiation with electrical stimulation. (2) In vivo, the conductive nerve guidance conduit exhibited similar effects with the gold standard autograft. In view of the performance of this conductive scaffold in modulating the cell functions in vitro and promoting nerve regeneration in vivo, it is expected that the graphene-modified nanofibrous scaffolds will exhibit their potential in peripheral nerve repair and regeneration.


AP/RGO nanofibrous scaffolds,Electrical stimulation,Graphene,Nerve regeneration in vivo,SC migration and myelination,