[en] The ability of DRG-derived neurons to survive and attach onto macroporous polylactide (PLA) foams was assessed in vitro. The foams were fabricated using a thermally induced polymer-solvent phase separation. Two types of pore structures, namely oriented or interconnected pores, can be produced, depending on the mechanism of phase separation, which in turn can be predicted by the thermodynamics of the polymer-solvent pair. Coating of the porous foams with polyvinylalcohol (PVA) considerably improved the wettability of the foams and allowed for cell culture. The in vitro biocompatibility of the PVA-coated supports was demonstrated by measuring cell viability and neuritogenesis. Microscopic observations of the cells seeded onto the polymer foams showed that the interconnected pore networks were more favorable to cell attachment than the anisotropic ones. The capacity of highly oriented foams to support in vivo peripheral nerve regeneration was studied in rats. A sciatic nerve gap of 5-mm length was bridged with a polymer implant showing macrotubes of 100 microm diameter. At 4 weeks postoperatively, the polymer implant was still present. It was well integrated and had restored an anatomic continuity. An abundant cell migration was observed at the outer surface of the polymer implant, but not within the macrotubes. This dense cellular microenvironment was found to be favorable for axogenesis.
Center for Education and Research on Macromolecules (CERM)
Politique Scientifique Fédérale (Belgique) = Belgian Federal Science Policy