Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 1013–1025 | Cite as

Genipin-Cross-Linked Chitosan Nerve Conduits Containing TNF-α Inhibitors for Peripheral Nerve Repair

  • Li Zhang
  • Weijia Zhao
  • Changmei Niu
  • Yujie Zhou
  • Haiyan Shi
  • Yalin Wang
  • Yumin Yang
  • Xin Tang


Tissue engineered nerve grafts (TENGs) are considered a promising alternative to autologous nerve grafting, which is considered the “gold standard” clinical strategy for peripheral nerve repair. Here, we immobilized tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) inhibitors onto a nerve conduit, which was introduced into a chitosan (CS) matrix scaffold utilizing genipin (GP) as the crosslinking agent, to fabricate CS-GP-TNF-α inhibitor nerve conduits. The in vitro release kinetics of TNF-α inhibitors from the CS-GP-TNF-α inhibitor nerve conduits were investigated using high-performance liquid chromatography. The in vivo continuous release profile of the TNF-α inhibitors released from the CS-GP-TNF-α inhibitor nerve conduits was measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay over 14 days. We found that the amount of TNF-α inhibitors released decreased with time after the bridging of the sciatic nerve defects in rats. Moreover, 4 and 12 weeks after surgery, histological analyses and functional evaluations were carried out to assess the influence of the TENG on regeneration. Immunochemistry performed 4 weeks after grafting to assess early regeneration outcomes revealed that the TENG strikingly promoted axonal outgrowth. Twelve weeks after grafting, the TENG accelerated myelin sheath formation, as well as functional restoration. In general, the regenerative outcomes following TENG more closely paralleled findings observed with autologous grafting than the use of the CS matrix scaffold. Collectively, our data indicate that the CS-GP-TNF-α inhibitor nerve conduits comprised an elaborate system for sustained release of TNF-α inhibitors in vitro, while studies in vivo demonstrated that the TENG could accelerate regenerating axonal outgrowth and functional restoration. The introduction of CS-GP-TNF-α-inhibitor nerve conduits into a scaffold may contribute to an efficient and adaptive immune microenvironment that can be used to facilitate peripheral nerve repair.


Tissue engineered nerve grafts (TENGs) Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) Peripheral nerve regeneration Genipin Schwann cells 



We appreciate the financial support from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2016YFC1101603), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 81370043 and 81671823), and a Project Funded by the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD).

Author Contributions

XT and YY designed the research; LZ, WZ, CN, YZ, HS and XT performed the experiments; LZ, CN, YZ, HS, YW, YY, and XT analyzed data; XT wrote the paper.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Li Zhang
    • 1
  • Weijia Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Changmei Niu
    • 1
  • Yujie Zhou
    • 3
  • Haiyan Shi
    • 1
  • Yalin Wang
    • 1
  • Yumin Yang
    • 1
  • Xin Tang
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Neuroregeneration of Jiangsu and Ministry of Education, Co-Innovation Center of NeuroregenerationNantong UniversityNantongChina
  2. 2.Department of Life Sciences of Medical SchoolNantong UniversityNantongChina
  3. 3.Department of Pathophysiology of Medical SchoolNantong UniversityNantongChina

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