Peripheral nerve regeneration with sustained release of poly(phosphoester) microencapsulated nerve growth factor within nerve guide conduits

Biomaterials. 2003 Jun;24(13):2405-12. doi: 10.1016/s0142-9612(03)00109-1.


Prolonged delivery of neurotrophic proteins to the target tissue is valuable in the treatment of various disorders of the nervous system. We have tested in this study whether sustained release of nerve growth factor (NGF) within nerve guide conduits (NGCs), a device used to repair injured nerves, would augment peripheral nerve regeneration. NGF-containing polymeric microspheres fabricated from a biodegradable poly(phosphoester) (PPE) polymer were loaded into silicone or PPE conduits to provide for prolonged, site-specific delivery of NGF. The conduits were used to bridge a 10 mm gap in a rat sciatic nerve model. Three months after implantation, morphological analysis revealed higher values of fiber diameter, fiber population and fiber density and lower G-ratio at the distal end of regenerated nerve cables collected from NGF microsphere-loaded silicone conduits, as compared with those from control conduits loaded with either saline alone, BSA microspheres, or NGF protein without microencapsulation. Beneficial effects on fiber diameter, G-ratio and fiber density were also observed in the permeable PPE NGCs. Thus, the results confirm a long-term promoting effect of exogenous NGF on morphological regeneration of peripheral nerves. The tissue-engineering approach reported in this study of incorporation of a microsphere protein release system into NGCs holds potential for improved functional recovery in patients whose injured nerves are reconstructed by entubulation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants*
  • Animals
  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible / chemical synthesis
  • Drug Implants / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Implants / chemical synthesis
  • Male
  • Materials Testing
  • Microspheres
  • Nanotechnology / instrumentation
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Nerve Growth Factor / administration & dosage*
  • Nerve Regeneration / drug effects*
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology
  • Particle Size
  • Peripheral Nerves / cytology
  • Peripheral Nerves / drug effects
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sciatic Nerve / cytology
  • Sciatic Nerve / drug effects*
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiology*


  • Coated Materials, Biocompatible
  • Drug Implants
  • Nerve Growth Factor