Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Engineered glycomaterial implants orchestrate large-scale functional repair of brain tissue chronically after severe traumatic brain injury

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Science Advances  05 Mar 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 10, eabe0207
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe0207

Abstract

Severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) survivors experience permanent functional disabilities due to significant volume loss and the brain’s poor capacity to regenerate. Chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycans (CS-GAGs) are key regulators of growth factor signaling and neural stem cell homeostasis in the brain. However, the efficacy of engineered CS (eCS) matrices in mediating structural and functional recovery chronically after sTBI has not been investigated. We report that neurotrophic factor functionalized acellular eCS matrices implanted into the rat M1 region acutely after sTBI significantly enhanced cellular repair and gross motor function recovery when compared to controls 20 weeks after sTBI. Animals subjected to M2 region injuries followed by eCS matrix implantations demonstrated the significant recovery of “reach-to-grasp” function. This was attributed to enhanced volumetric vascularization, activity-regulated cytoskeleton (Arc) protein expression, and perilesional sensorimotor connectivity. These findings indicate that eCS matrices implanted acutely after sTBI can support complex cellular, vascular, and neuronal circuit repair chronically after sTBI.

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