Nerve guides manufactured from photocurable polymers to aid peripheral nerve repair

Biomaterials. 2015 May;49:77-89. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.01.055. Epub 2015 Feb 14.


The peripheral nervous system has a limited innate capacity for self-repair following injury, and surgical intervention is often required. For injuries greater than a few millimeters autografting is standard practice although it is associated with donor site morbidity and is limited in its availability. Because of this, nerve guidance conduits (NGCs) can be viewed as an advantageous alternative, but currently have limited efficacy for short and large injury gaps in comparison to autograft. Current commercially available NGC designs rely on existing regulatory approved materials and traditional production methods, limiting improvement of their design. The aim of this study was to establish a novel method for NGC manufacture using a custom built laser-based microstereolithography (μSL) setup that incorporated a 405 nm laser source to produce 3D constructs with ∼ 50 μm resolution from a photocurable poly(ethylene glycol) resin. These were evaluated by SEM, in vitro neuronal, Schwann and dorsal root ganglion culture and in vivo using a thy-1-YFP-H mouse common fibular nerve injury model. NGCs with dimensions of 1 mm internal diameter × 5 mm length with a wall thickness of 250 μm were fabricated and capable of supporting re-innervation across a 3 mm injury gap after 21 days, with results close to that of an autograft control. The study provides a technology platform for the rapid microfabrication of biocompatible materials, a novel method for in vivo evaluation, and a benchmark for future development in more advanced NGC designs, biodegradable and larger device sizes, and longer-term implantation studies.

Keywords: Microstructure; Nerve guide; Nerve regeneration; Nerve tissue engineering; Neural cell; Schwann cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / drug effects
  • Biocompatible Materials / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Compressive Strength
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fibula / injuries
  • Fibula / pathology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / drug effects
  • Ganglia, Spinal / pathology
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration*
  • Materials Testing
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Nerve Regeneration / drug effects*
  • Peripheral Nerves / drug effects
  • Peripheral Nerves / pathology*
  • Peripheral Nerves / ultrastructure
  • Photochemical Processes*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacology*
  • Printing
  • Prosthesis Implantation
  • Rats
  • Wound Healing / drug effects


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polyethylene Glycols