Nerve conduits are a proven strategy for guiding axon regrowth following injury. This study compares degradable silk-trehalose films containing chondroitinase ABC (ChABC) and/or glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) loaded within a silk fibroin-based nerve conduit in a rat sciatic nerve defect model. Four groups of silk conduits were prepared, with the following silk-trehalose films inserted into the conduit: (a) empty; (b) 1 µg GDNF; (3) 2 U ChABC; and (4) 1 µg GDNF/2 U ChABC. Drug release studies demonstrated 20% recovery of GDNF and ChABC at 6 weeks and 24 h, respectively. Six conduits of each type were implanted into 15 mm sciatic nerve defects in Lewis rats; conduits were explanted for histological analysis at 6 weeks. Tissues stained with Schwann cell S-100 antibody demonstrated an increased density of cells in both GDNF- and ChABC-treated groups compared to empty control conduits (p < 0.05). Conduits loaded with GDNF and ChABC also demonstrated higher levels of neuron-specific PGP 9.5 protein when compared to controls (p < 0.05). In this study we demonstrated a method to enhance Schwann cell migration and proliferation and also foster axonal regeneration when repairing peripheral nerve gap defects. Silk fibroin-based nerve conduits possess favourable mechanical and degradative properties and are further enhanced when loaded with ChABC and GDNF. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Keywords: GDNF; chondroitinase ABC; drug delivery; nerve conduit; peripheral nerve; silk fibroin.
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.