skip to main content

Title: Effective Modulation of CNS Inhibitory Microenvironment using Bioinspired Hybrid‐Nanoscaffold‐Based Therapeutic Interventions

Central nervous system (CNS) injuries are often debilitating, and most currently have no cure. This is due to the formation of a neuroinhibitory microenvironment at injury sites, which includes neuroinflammatory signaling and non‐permissive extracellular matrix (ECM) components. To address this challenge, a viscous interfacial self‐assembly approach, to generate a bioinspired hybrid 3D porous nanoscaffold platform for delivering anti‐inflammatory molecules and establish a favorable 3D‐ECM environment for the effective suppression of the neuroinhibitory microenvironment, is developed. By tailoring the structural and biochemical properties of the 3D porous nanoscaffold, enhanced axonal growth from the dual‐targeting therapeutic strategy in a human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)‐based in vitro model of neuroinflammation is demonstrated. Moreover, nanoscaffold‐based approaches promote significant axonal growth and functional recovery in vivo in a spinal cord injury model through a unique mechanism of anti‐inflammation‐based fibrotic scar reduction. Given the critical role of neuroinflammation and ECM microenvironments in neuroinhibitory signaling, the developed nanobiomaterial‐based therapeutic intervention may pave a new road for treating CNS injuries.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Advanced Materials
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Degeneration of fibrocartilaginous tissues is often associated with complex pro‐inflammatory factors. These include reactive oxygen species (ROS), cell‐free nucleic acids (cf‐NAs), and epigenetic changes in immune cells. To effectively control this complex inflammatory signaling, it developed an all‐in‐one nanoscaffold‐based 3D porous hybrid protein (3D‐PHP) self‐therapeutic strategy for treating intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration. The 3D‐PHP nanoscaffold is synthesized by introducing a novel nanomaterial‐templated protein assembly (NTPA) strategy. 3D‐PHP nanoscaffolds that avoid covalent modification of proteins demonstrate inflammatory stimuli‐responsive drug release, disc‐mimetic stiffness, and excellent biodegradability. Enzyme‐like 2D nanosheets incorporated into nanoscaffolds further enabled robust scavenging of ROS and cf‐NAs, reducing inflammation and enhancing the survival of disc cells under inflammatory stress in vitro. Implantation of 3D‐PHP nanoscaffolds loaded with bromodomain extraterminal inhibitor (BETi) into a rat nucleotomy disc injury model effectively suppressed inflammation in vivo, thus promoting restoration of the extracellular matrix (ECM). The resulting regeneration of disc tissue facilitated long‐term pain reduction. Therefore, self‐therapeutic and epigenetic modulator‐encapsulated hybrid protein nanoscaffold shows great promise as a novel approach to restore dysregulated inflammatory signaling and treat degenerative fibrocartilaginous diseases, including disc injuries, providing hope and relief to patients worldwide.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract Extracellular matrix (ECM) is a complex structure composed of bioactive molecules representative of the local tissue microenvironment. Decellularized ECM biomaterials harness these biomolecules for regenerative medicine applications. One potential therapeutic application is the use of vocal fold (VF) specific ECM to restore the VFs after injury. ECM scaffolds are derived through a process of decellularization, which aims to remove unwanted immunogenic biomolecules (e.g. DNA) while preserving the composition of the ECM. The effectiveness of the decellularization is typically assessed at the end by quantifying ECM attributes such as final dsDNA content. However, batch-to-batch variability in ECM manufacturing remains a significant challenge for the standardization, cost-effectiveness, and scale-up process. The limited number of tools available for in-process control heavily restricts the uncovering of the correlations between decellularization process parameters and ECM attributes. In this study, we developed a technique applicable to both the classical batch method and semi-continuous decellularization systems to trace the decellularization of two laryngeal tissues in real-time. We hypothesize that monitoring the bioreactor’s effluent absorbance at 260 nm as a function of time will provide a representative DNA release profile from the tissue and thus allow for process optimization. The DNA release profiles were obtained for laryngeal tissues and were successfully used to optimize the derivation of VF lamina propria-ECM (auVF-ECM) hydrogels. This hydrogel had comparable rheological properties to commonly used biomaterials to treat VF injuries. Also, the auVF-ECM hydrogel promoted the down-regulation of CCR7 by THP-1 macrophages upon lipopolysaccharide stimulation in vitro suggesting some anti-inflammatory properties. The results show that absorbance profiles are a good representation of DNA removal during the decellularization process thus providing an important tool to optimize future protocols. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Neural activity and learning lead to myelin sheath plasticity in the intact central nervous system (CNS), but this plasticity has not been well‐studied after CNS injury. In the context of spinal cord injury (SCI), demyelination occurs at the lesion site and natural remyelination of surviving axons can take months. To determine if neural activity modulates myelin and axon plasticity in the injured, adult CNS, we electrically stimulated the contralesional motor cortex at 10 Hz to drive neural activity in the corticospinal tract of rats with sub‐chronic spinal contusion injuries. We quantified myelin and axonal characteristics by tracing corticospinal axons rostral to and at the lesion epicenter and identifying nodes of Ranvier by immunohistochemistry. Three weeks of daily stimulation induced very short myelin sheaths, axon branching, and thinner axons outside of the lesion zone, where remodeling has not previously been reported. Surprisingly, remodeling was particularly robust rostral to the injury which suggests that electrical stimulation can promote white matter plasticity even in areas not directly demyelinated by the contusion. Stimulation did not alter myelin or axons at the lesion site, which suggests that neuronal activity does not contribute to myelin remodeling near the injury in the sub‐chronic period. These data are the first to demonstrate wide‐scale remodeling of nodal and myelin structures of a mature, long‐tract motor pathway in response to electrical stimulation. This finding suggests that neuromodulation promotes white matter plasticity in intact regions of pathways after injury and raises intriguing questions regarding the interplay between axonal and myelin plasticity.

    more » « less
  4. Osteoarthritis (OA), a chronic and degenerative joint disease, remains a challenge in treatment due to the lack of disease-modifying therapies. As a promising therapeutic agent, adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) have an effective anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective paracrine effect that can be enhanced by genetic modification. Unfortunately, direct cell delivery without matrix support often results in poor viability of therapeutic cells. Herein, a hydrogel implant approach that enabled intra-articular delivery of gene-engineered ADSCs was developed for improved therapeutic outcomes in a surgically induced rat OA model. An injectable extracellular matrix (ECM)-mimicking hydrogel was prepared as the carrier for cell delivery, providing a favorable microenvironment for ADSC spreading and proliferation. The ECM-mimicking hydrogel could reduce cell death during and post injection. Additionally, ADSCs were genetically modified to overexpress transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), one of the paracrine factors that exert an anti-inflammatory and pro-anabolic effect. The gene-engineered ADSCs overexpressing TGF-β1 (T-ADSCs) had an enhanced paracrine effect on OA-like chondrocytes, which effectively decreased the expression of tumor necrosis factor-alpha and increased the expression of collagen II and aggrecan. In a surgically induced rat OA model, intra-articular injection of the T-ADSC-loaded hydrogel markedly reduced cartilage degeneration, joint inflammation, and the loss of the subchondral bone. Taken together, this study provides a potential biomaterial strategy for enhanced OA treatment by delivering the gene-engineered ADSCs within an ECM-mimicking hydrogel. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract Purpose of Review

    Interfacial tissue exists throughout the body at cartilage-to-bone (osteochondral interface) and tendon-to-bone (enthesis) interfaces. Healing of interfacial tissues is a current challenge in regenerative approaches because the interface plays a critical role in stabilizing and distributing the mechanical stress between soft tissues (e.g., cartilage and tendon) and bone. The purpose of this review is to identify new directions in the field of interfacial tissue development and physiology that can guide future regenerative strategies for improving post-injury healing.

    Recent Findings

    Cues from interfacial tissue development may guide regeneration including biological cues such as cell phenotype and growth factor signaling; structural cues such as extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, ECM, and cell alignment; and mechanical cues such as compression, tension, shear, and the stiffness of the cellular microenvironment.


    In this review, we explore new discoveries in the field of interfacial biology related to ECM remodeling, cellular metabolism, and fate. Based on emergent findings across multiple disciplines, we lay out a framework for future innovations in the design of engineered strategies for interface regeneration. Many of the key mechanisms essential for interfacial tissue development and adaptation have high potential for improving outcomes in the clinic.

    more » « less