The role of peripheral nerve ECM components in the tissue engineering nerve construction

Rev Neurosci. 2013;24(4):443-53. doi: 10.1515/revneuro-2013-0022.


The extracellular matrix (ECM) is the naturally occurring substrate that provides a support structure and an attachment site for cells. It also produces a biological signal, which plays an important role in and has significant impact on cell adhesion, migration, proliferation, differentiation, and gene expression. Peripheral nerve repair is a complicated process involving Schwann cell proliferation and migration, 'bands of Büngner' formation, and newborn nerve extension. In the ECM of peripheral nerves, macromolecules are deposited among cells; these constitute the microenvironment of Schwann cell growth. Such macromolecules include collagen (I, III, IV, V), laminin, fibronectin, chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs), and other nerve factors. Collagen, the main component of ECM, provides structural support and guides newborn neurofilament extension. Laminin, fibronectin, CSPGs, and neurotrophic factors, are promoters or inhibitors, playing different roles in nerve repair after injury. By a chemical decellularization process, acellular nerve allografting eliminates the antigens responsible for allograft rejection and maintains most of the ECM components, which can effectively guide and enhance nerve regeneration. Thus, the composition and features of peripheral nerve ECM suggest its superiority as nerve repair material. This review focuses on the structure, function, and application in the tissue engineering nerve construction of the peripheral nerve ECM components.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries / therapy
  • Peripheral Nerves / metabolism*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*