Experimental strategies to bridge large tissue gaps in the injured spinal cord after acute and chronic lesion
After a spinal cord injury (SCI) a scar forms in the lesion core which hinders axonal regeneration. Bridging the site of injury after an insult to the spinal cord, tumor resections, or tissue defects resulting from traumatic accidents can aid in facilitating general tissue repair as well as regenerative growth of nerve fibers into and beyond the affected area. Two experimental treatment strategies are presented: (1) implantation of a novel microconnector device into an acutely and completely transected thoracic rat spinal cord to readapt severed spinal cord tissue stumps, and (2) polyethylene glycol filling of the SCI site in chronically lesioned rats after scar resection. The chronic spinal cord lesion in this model is a complete spinal cord transection which was inflicted 5 weeks before treatment. Both methods have recently achieved very promising outcomes and promoted axonal regrowth, beneficial cellular invasion and functional improvements in rodent models of spinal cord injury. The mechanical microconnector system (mMS) is a multi-channel system composed of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) with an outlet tubing system to apply negative pressure to the mMS lumen thus pulling the spinal cord stumps into the honeycomb-structured holes. After its implantation into the 1 mm tissue gap the tissue is sucked into the device. Furthermore, the inner walls of the mMS are microstructured for better tissue adhesion. In the case of the chronic spinal cord injury approach, spinal cord tissue - including the scar-filled lesion area - is resected over an area of 4 mm in length. After the microsurgical scar resection the resulting cavity is filled with polyethylene glycol (PEG 600) which was found to provide an excellent substratum for cellular invasion, revascularization, axonal regeneration and even compact remyelination in vivo.
Spinal cord injury