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Neurotransmitters in biopolymers stimulate nerve regeneration
Date:12/11/2007

maged central nerves.

One of our ultimate goals is to create a conduit for nerve regeneration that guides the neurons to regenerate, but gradually degrades as the neurons regenerate so that it wont constrict the nerves permanently, explained Wang.

For the experiments, the researchers tested polymers with different concentrations of the acetylcholine-mimicking groups. Acetylcholine was chosen because it is known to induce neurite outgrowth and promote the formation and strengthening of synapses, or connections between neurons. They isolated ganglia nervous tissue samples, placed them on the polymers and observed new neurites extend from the ganglia.

Since these neuron extensions must traverse a growth inhibiting material in the body, Wang and Gumera tested the ability of the biomaterial to enhance the extension of sprouted neurites. More specifically, they assessed whether the ganglia sprouted at least 20 neurites and then measured neurite length and neurite length distribution with an inverted phase contrast microscope.

We found that adding 70 percent acetylcholine to the polymer induced regenerative responses similar to laminin, a benchmark material for nerve culture, said Wang. Seventy percent acetylcholine also led to a neurite growth rate of up to 0.7 millimeters per day, or approximately half the thickness of a compact disc.

Laminin is a natural protein present in the nervous tissues, but it dissolves in water, making it difficult to incorporate into a conduit that needs to support nerves for months. A synthetic polymer with acetylcholine functional groups, on the other hand, can be designed to be insoluble in water, according to Wang.

Since functional restoration after nerve injury requires synapse formation, the researchers also searched for the presence of synaptic vesicle proteins on the newly formed neurites. With fluorescence imaging, they found that neurons cultured on these acetylcholine polymers
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Contact: Abby Vogel
avogel@gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News  
Source:Eurekalert

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