Ex-Vivo Stimulation of Adipose Stem Cells by Growth Factors and Fibrin-Hydrogel Assisted Delivery Strategies for Treating Nerve Gap-Injuries.

Peripheral nerve injuries often result in lifelong disabilities despite advanced surgical interventions, indicating the urgent clinical need for effective therapies. In order to improve the potency of adipose-derived stem cells (ASC) for nerve regeneration, the present study focused primarily on ex-vivo stimulation of ASC by using growth factors, i.e., nerve growth factor (NGF) or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and secondly on fibrin-hydrogel nerve conduits (FNC) assisted ASC delivery strategies, i.e., intramural vs. intraluminal loading.

ASC were stimulated by NGF or VEGF for 3 days and the resulting secretome was subsequently evaluated in an in vitro axonal outgrowth assay. For the animal study, a 10 mm sciatic nerve gap-injury was created in rats and reconstructed using FNC loaded with ASC. Secretome derived from NGF-stimulated ASC promoted significant axonal outgrowth from the DRG-explants in comparison to all other conditions.

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Thus, NGF-stimulated ASC were further investigated in animals and found to enhance early nerve regeneration as evidenced by the increased number of β-Tubulin III+ axons. Notably, FNC assisted intramural delivery enabled the improvement of ASC’s therapeutic efficacy in comparison to the intraluminal delivery system. Thus, ex-vivo stimulation of ASC by NGF and FNC assisted intramural delivery may offer new options for developing effective therapies.